A view from the top: St Peter’s Basilica – Vatican City

Did you know Vatican City is the smallest country in the world? Pretty cool, huh? It’s not just a city in the middle of Italy, it is an actual independent city-state, where it issues its own stamps and passports and everything. So when in Rome… you can’t really pass up an opportunity to go see it for yourself! My favourite part of Vatican City was climbing the dome of St Peter’s Basilica to get some spectacular views over St Peter’s Square and Rome.

view from the top of St Peter's Basilica

Because the Vatican City is a religious site, the dress code must be respected – no shorts, bare shoulders or short skirts. For us visiting in November, this wasn’t a problem as it was pretty chilly. We also found the queues in November perfectly fine, it took us around half an hour to get through security checks. Again, this might be somewhat more lengthy during summer.

There are two ways to climb the dome – climb all the way by foot (551 steps) or go part way in the lift and climb the rest (320 steps). There is a slight price difference, obviously climbing by foot is slightly cheaper.

People standing at the highest point of the climb at the top of the dome (St Peter's Basilica)
People standing at the highest point of the climb at the top of the dome

Pros – The view! The climb is quite an experience but it’s worth it when you reach the top, even just for bragging rights and a quick instagram snap.

Cons – 551 steps is A LONG WAY! My dad didn’t even bother coming up the dome with us as he hates heights but to be honest, I think he might have found the climb too much of a challenge. In addition to the number of steps there are also parts that are very narrow, especially where you’re climbing inside the curve of the dome.

View inside the Basilica from the interior balcony - St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City.
View inside the Basilica from the interior balcony

Surprises – After the initial climb (or where I believe the lift may take you to) you reach the interior balcony where you are still inside the dome and can look down on the people visiting inside St Peter’s. At first we were a bit like, is this it?! But then we realised you can climb a little further to get those spectacular views from outside and over the square. Oh and there’s a cafe and shop on a terrace part way up too.

Verdict – When in Rome… make this a priority.


If you liked this then you might enjoy the view from Campanile di San Marco in Venice or any of my other View from the Top posts.

Afternoon Tea at the Secret Garden

For my dear Nan’s 80th ahem 30th birthday (as the waiter so politely suggested), my Mum and I took her out for afternoon tea at the Secret Garden in Mersham-Le-Hatch, Ashford in Kent. Tell you what, it is a bit secret as we had a little difficulty in finding it!

View across the wildflower garden at the Secret Garden restaurant near Ashford in Kent

Once we arrived, we walked through the gardens and requested to be seated outside as it was a nice sunny day and we don’t get too many of those in England. Only downside was a few uninvited guests, but to be fair we did have prior warning about the wasps at this time of year but it’s alright, my Mum and Nan are cockneys so hard as nails, scared ’em all off with a cockney glare hahaha!

We were served our afternoon tea on chintzy mismatched china and alongside our large pot of English breakfast tea, we had finger sandwiches which were the typical afternoon tea sandwiches (cucumber & cream cheese, salmon, egg, ham), scones with cream and jam, and then a selection of sweet treats. The wasps enjoyed the jam in particular.

The desserts on offer that day (because they vary depending on season) were sticky toffee choux bun, chocolate cake, carrot cake, banoffee pie in a little pot and then a small fudge and fruit pastille type thing which were very sweet!

Afternoon tea at the Secret Garden

I didn’t manage to eat all mine but the nice waiter gave us some boxes so we could take our leftovers home. Who manages to eat all their afternoon tea anyway, right? There’s always at least one scone left isn’t there!

After tea, we had planned on taking a little walk around the garden (which FYI doubles up as a wedding venue, however no wedding was on that day) but sadly somewhere between dessert and our last cups of tea it started raining <insert grumble about typical British weather here> so we just took a couple of snaps and left.

It was an enjoyable afternoon and pretty standard pricing at £21.95pp for the traditional tea.

You can get married at The Secret Garden

And a sunny day soon turns in to rain!

If you liked this then you might like afternoon tea at Chilston Park Hotel.

Alphabet Dating - K is for Kids for the day

Alphabet Dating – K is for Kids for the day

Well we finally got round to our ‘K’ date! We decided to go to London and be kids for the day – something that anyone can do anywhere and is pretty much open to interpretation, in fact I reckon we could be kids for the day for several more dates and still not run out of things to do!

Our date began at the Natural History Museum, somewhere that neither of us have been since we were school children and my husband had told me that he was particularly fond of dinosaurs as a child. The other thing about the Natural History Museum is that its free! Perfect!

I enjoyed the animal exhibitions such as learning about toothless mammals and mammals with pouches. We also got to see some ginormous antlers, as well as a Moeritherium – one of the earliest known relatives to the elephant. And a Kirk’s Dik Dik because I was disappointed I didn’t see them at Chester Zoo (even though this was just a taxidermy one in a glass display).

Moeritherium - relative of the elephant
Moeritherium – relative of the elephant
Kirk's Dik Dik - Natural History Museum
So cute

Of course, I’m not gonna lie, the friggin great big animatronic T-Rex they had in the dinosaur bit was pretty awesome!  Yep dinosaurs in general are pretty amazing when you think about it.

T-Rex at the Natural History Museum in London

After lunch (which should have been a McDonalds Happy Meal but wasn’t because neither of us fancied it) we headed to our next stop – Alice’s Adventures Underground. Now you may remember that I already had a Wonderland experience 2 years ago with some friends, well it’s back and because I banged on about it so much first time around my husband decided he wanted to go. This of course represents a huge part of my childhood as I watched this Disney classic more times than I can tell you.

Alice Underground London

This time I chose the ‘eat me’ route and became a diamond. We met the frog, Cheshire Cat and Humpty Dumpty. We inspected the jam tarts that were being made (I was forced to hold the baby pig… not real, sadly) and we also heard the Mock Turtle sing.

Instead of eating the jams tarts (like I did last time), as a diamond we were spying on one of the other suits who were eating the jam tarts!

The ‘falling down the rabbit hole’ part as well as meeting Tweedledee and Tweedledum, plus the tea party scene, were all the same as last time around. The court scene, however, felt slightly different and I’m pretty certain that the guilty suit who ate the tarts was different to last time around too.

If you haven’t a clue what I am on about (we’re all mad here) then begin at the beginning and read about the last time I fell down the rabbit hole in Alice’s Adventures Underground.

Alice Underground

Play some flamingo croquet

After a brief pitstop in Skinny Dip to buy myself a fabulous new purse, our day of fun ended with freakshakes at Maxwell’s in Covent Garden. We ordered the Salted Caramel Donut Freakshake and the Unicorn Freakshake – you can guess which one mine was. The Unicorn Freakshake looks beautiful but the bubblegum flavour was a bit too much for me and I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had been strawberry flavoured. Ah well!

Freakshakes at Maxwell's in Covent Garden

And there ends our day of being kids, let’s not dwell too much on me accidentally using the men’s toilets at Alice in Wonderland and hubby ordering himself a beer to go with his freakshake haha.

We did want to go to a Lego exhibition and Ballie Ballerson (the ball pit bar) but we were tired and ended up just going home. There are so many possibilities with the ‘Kids for the day’ date idea ranging from spending the day at a theme park (Disneyland please!) to a movie marathon of all your favourite childhood films!

What would be your perfect ‘Kids for the day’ date? If you need some suggestions then why not have a quick read of my 10 ways to embrace your inner child.

12 things I love about America

things i love about america

Happy July 4th to all my readers across the pond. This post is dedicated to you.

Things I love about America

1. TV shows

You gave us Friends, Pretty Little Liars, The Walking Dead, The Big Bang Theory, Catfish, Sex and the City, The Simpsons – have I said enough?

2. Junk Food

I’m quite literally like a kid in a candy store (or sweet shop as we say in England). America has about 52864 flavours of M&Ms and Pop Tarts, we have about 3 of each and if we want anything else then we practically have to take out a bank load to afford them.

Ok, there might be a few exaggerations above, but still, you get my point.

M&M World Las Vegas
M&M World Las Vegas

3. The Celebrations

You guys go all out. Or at least thats what the movies lead us to believe. Halloween looks like so much fun with everyone dressed up and I’m a total sucker for the cosy Christmases and holiday spirit you guys bring.

4. Orlando

Disney, Universal, the amazing villas… the sheer excitement of it all. Orlando – you turned me into a theme park snob with your awesomeness! Plus we got engaged here, so it will always have a special place in my heart.

Castle at the Magic Kingdom

5. Las Vegas

Basically Orlando for adults. Vegas gave me the same kind of buzz too. Big, bold, brash – but I love it! We even have goals to renew our wedding vows there one day.

The giant slot machine at Ballys Las Vegas
Next to the giant slot machine at Ballys

6. Warner Bros Studio Tour Hollywood

I love, love, loved this place! I got to see the streets where they filmed Pretty Little Liars, tons of props from the Batman and Harry Potter movies, I saw the working set of The Big Bang Theory, got to hold an Oscar (they are heavy!) AND sit on THE Friends sofa in Central Perk!!!

You can sit on the Friends sofa at Warner Bros Studio Tour Hollywood

7. This

Marshmallow madness - no more picking cereal out of your marshmallows
Marshmallow madness – no more picking cereal out of your marshmallows

8. Breakfast cereal

Hell yeah Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms and Apple Jacks where I don’t have to pay £8 for a box!

Lucky Charms breakfast cereal
The breakfast of kings

9. Shopping

I did, like most people, indulge in a bit of shopping when I visited New York. But I’m telling you, you can get everything in America. Every nice thing I find on Pinterest is from the USA and when I was into jewellery making a few years ago, all the stuff I wanted came from the States. Which leads me to…

10. Hot Topic

I went there for the first time in Los Angeles and loved it, especially the Disney aisle. I bought myself a Cinderella inspired dress which I wore to a Christmas party. I got so many compliments on it. Which brings me on to…

Cinderella dress from Hot Topic

11. Disney

I grew up on a diet of Disney. I remember my parents taking me and my brother to the cinema to see The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King – I even had The Lion King soundtrack! Those movies are timeless.

Meeting Beauty and the Beast at Epcot
Somewhere between a beauty and a beast…

12. Pop culture

Movies, music, movies, music. In fact, this July 4th we’ll be having an American themed fancy dress day in my office and I’ve decided to go as one of the most famous American pop culture icons of all time – The King of Pop!

Happy 4th July y’all! Check out my USA Pinterest board

 

June Favourites

June favourites

Wahey! I managed to write a June favourites post!

Word of warning: If you’re a Pretty Little Liars fan and you haven’t watched the finale, don’t read past number 4. If not, read on and leave me a little comment 🙂

1. 5k Colour Run

This is a big deal for me. I’ve never done a charity run before, but as I won the “Most colourful dress sense” award at my office Christmas party, I had to justify it by taking part in a Colour Run. I didn’t actually run the whole 5k but I, together with hubby and some of my work friends, completed it and we got medals at the end. We also raised over £800 for charity!

KM Colour Run

Rolling in pink powder on the colour run

 

2. This funny audio

Listen to this. Can you guess what it is? We recorded this audio on a day out recently.

 

3. Ben de Lisi travel themed bedsheets

We fancied a little refresh in the bedroom (ooh la la!) so treated ourselves to some new bedsheets (does that make me old now?). These awesome Ben de Lisi ones are from Debenhams. They’re bright, fun, match our bedroom decor and our personalities AND they’re TRAVEL THEMED! Win all round!

Ben de Lisi Travel themed bedding

 

4. Pretty Little Liars

OMG I can’t believe it’s all over.

There have been plenty of mixed feelings about the finale. I personally wasn’t too disappointed because I actually believed that the liars were all going to wake up in the barn where it all began and the whole thing was going to be “just a dream”, so I’m happy they didn’t pull that shit on us.

I do think the show could have ended with the girls stood in the square instead of the whole weird Mona in France bit and then the pointless part with Addison and her little friends. No one cares about Addison!! Mona is a pretty awesome character though, still can’t figure her out.

I also still have ALOT of questions like – Where was Mike? Where was Jason? Who killed Maya and why? And why was her niece randomly at the rehearsal? So Alex just killed Wren and turned him into a diamond?! What was the weird scene at the start with Jenna on a horse and Lucas tap dancing all about? How did they go from Toby talking about the book “Spencer” gave him to them deciding that she MUST have an evil twin, all in the space of about 30 seconds? And more to the point – what the hell kind of British accent was that?!

My mind is still boggling at it all. And now it makes me want to go back to the Warner Bros Studio Tour in Los Angeles because it was AMAZING and I didn’t soak in enough PLL when I went.

Sigh.

Did you watch Pretty Little Liars? What did you think? 

Until next time, bitches – H