Preparation

Planing is half the fun…sometimes.

Getting ready for our trip. This time we are organised, we have booked our hotels, our in country flights.  We have booked the car and tickets to events.

We’re making use of our loyalty points and programs.  Even I am impressed with our organisation skills.

Elf tip: We love Hotels.com – you collect nights from stays and these add up to free nights in lots of lovely locations.

 

We’re a month out from our trip so next on the list:

  • Travel insurance
  • Mowgli care arrangments
  • Cash conversions
  • Bug spray investments
  • GP appointment for medications and prescriptions

 

It pays to be ready and prepared.

 

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Venommmm….

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Venom

We’re off to one of my favorite places, The Natural History Museum!  This time we are going to see the new Venom exhibition.

First of all, book tickets, the queue is something else entirely.  The size of it would strike fear in to the heart of even the most dedicated museum lover.  Luckily we have booked tickets, so with rather smug smiles we sidle past the massive line and straight in.

The exhibition, is beautifully put together, with lots of information and specimens as well as real life survival stories.  We spend a wonderfully morbid hour and a half perusing the fangs and barbs of snakes, jellyfish, spiders and all sorts of insects.

Get in before it closes, if you are a member it is free!

click here

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A very Mowgli adventure

A new sort of adventure, dog friendly, countryside hotel…a very grown up weekend away!

We have hired a car, with our littlest elf snuggled up in the back seat we head off to the Cotswolds.  We wind our way though little streets ad pass through lots of lovely villages that are gearing up for Christmas.  It is a cozy delight.

We stop for a quick lunch in a lovely pub The King’s Inn.

Back in the car we head towards our accommodation for tonight.  The Fish Hotel.  The Fish boasts its own restaurant and has lots of different options for accommodation, including a dog friendly section.

We check in and drive down to the stable.  The room is wonderful and Mowgli even gets a bed, bowl, towel and treats!  The treats are a big hit.  We take advantage of the location and head our for a walk around the pond and fields.  Mowgli is in heaven.

The Fish accommodates it’s canine guests accompanied by their humans in the bar for dinner and breakfast.

In terms of dog friendly, this Hotel really is amazing.

We spend the next day we drive to Woodstock and visit the market and wander in the pretty town.  This is the home of Blenheim Palace which is worth a visit if you have time.

We hired the car though Sixt and they were great with Mowgli and would recommend them if you need a dog friendly option.

 

Mowgli had a great time, and so did we.  The Cotswolds is a beautiful location and really lovely for a getaway.  There are so many cute little places you can stop and experience something new.

Secrets

So, we wanted to share some of our favourite secret things we have learn on our travels.  In no particular order:

 

Amsterdam – Vondel Park

If you want something low key and easy on the wallet whilst you are in Amsterdam, we thoroughly recommend a Picnic in Vondel park.  Lots of the supermarkets sell little BBQs that are disposable, grab one and join the locals.  Really is wonderful.

 

Porto – BBs Bar 

For the best view and money saving beer.  Head under the bridge on the Porto side of the river and grab a cheep beer from BBs, then grab a bit of wall.  Perfect.  Simple as that.

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Ouse Valley Viaduct

A short train trip from London and a walk will bring you to this wonderful location.  This Viaduct was built in 1841 and it something to behold.

 

Esposende (Northern Portugal) – De Lili & Ca

For the best pastry you can imagine…only you can’t imagine a pastry with pumpkin that would taste like this.  Really Pasteis de Lili are something else!  Covered in icing sugar and crisp pastry, perfect with coffee.

 

Trim Castle

Its raining…its been raining…but it is Ireland so we get up and head off into the countryside.  We are heading to Trim Castle via some pretty places on the way.

We stop at Bective Abbey and watch birds dip in and out of its ruins.  It’s stark beauty is strange and desolate.

When we make it to Trim, we park up head for cover in the entrance of the castle.  It is 2 euros if you just want to wander in the grounds, or 5 euros if you want a guided tour of the keep as well.  Pay the 5 euros…it is so worth it.

The rain is really coming down, so I walk the perimeter of the grounds rather swiftly even so it is clear that the castle is very big and intact.  Our guide arrives and we head into the keep.  Our guide is wonderful, she invites us to use our imaginations to see how the castle would have been in the different periods of its existence.

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We work our way up spiral staircases and visit the chapel and walk among the history of the Castle.  Eventually we make our way to the very top and look our on the misty countryside and town of Trim.  I very very much recommend this stop on your tour of Ireland.

You might recognize the Castle from Braveheart! There are lots of photos at the entrance of the transformation for the movie.

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Also another fact…this is the largest Ango-Norman Castle in Ireland.

When we are done at the Castle we head into Drogheda.  Drogheda is one of the oldest towns in Ireland.  St. Peter’s Church is one of the famous sites of Drogheda,  the church is not very ornate inside, however it does have one unusual thing…a severed head.  Yes, a severed and preserved head.  St Oliver’s head to be exact.  The shrine is quite beautiful and the hand written confirmation of the authenticity of the head is very intriguing.

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If you are hungry in Drogheda I definitely recommend The Bare Food Company.  We had scones and coffee and they were so good!

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And that is about it for the Elf in Ireland.

Elf at Newgrange

So this is our first driving holiday with me as the driver…dum dum duuuummm!  So we hire a car from Dublin airport which is relatively inexpensive and easy to arrange.  We drive out to Co. Meath from Dublin which is an easy hour drive and we arrive in Slane which has a fabulous farm food shop, Hugo’s Farm Food Shop…very yum. There is a big castle in Slane which we do not visit, but instead we continue on a bit further to Newgrange.

The only access to Newgrange and the other Neolithic sites is through the visitor centre.  When you arrive your option you have several options, we choose just to visit Newgrange.  The ticket cost includes the visitor centre and the bus to the site as well as the admission to the site.  Newgrange admission is 7 euros which I think is great value.

Newgrange itself is pretty spectacular.  Its imposing and gets even more impressive the closer you get to it.  No one knows what the site was used for, perhaps a temple, perhaps burial site…What we do know is that the site is older that the pyramids and and made up of materials from all across Ireland.

Part of the site visit is the inclusion of a guide who is well informed and this makes all the difference, especially when we get the opportunity to go into the internal passage. Once you squeeze your way in (not great if you suffer from claustrophobia) and reach the chamber at the end, you really get a sense of the magic of the place.  The inside is carefully constructed and watertight.  the most magical moment comes when the guide demonstrates what the passage of light at the winter solstice would look like.  The the lightbox from the front entrance travels all the way through and touches our feet before plunging us back into darkness.

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….just magical.

Next stop we continue our drive to lush countryside and arrive in Termonfeckin in Co. Louth.  Termonfeckin is a little and pretty village, conveniently located as a base for our next couple of days.  There is not much in the way of food options in Termonfeckin its self, except the Triple House Restaurant which was recommended several times during our stay…alas it books out well in advance and we were not able to try it.  Do book a head and let us know what you think.