Five ideas to beat the January blues

It’s January, and like many we’re feeling a little worn down by the freezing temperatures, lack of available funds and propensity for interesting places to be closed for refurbishment. However, we’ve got some great plans for summer lining up already, as well as a few weekend distractions, so we thought we’d share with you some of our favourite ideas and tips to break up your week.

1. Booking tickets – a long way in advance

I was clearly feeling uncharacteristically organised in October, so I put the day that the Royal Opera House winter season opened in my diary, and when that day came I logged on at 9am and speedily booked some opera and ballet tickets for January. At £17 each, they didn’t break the bank, but were a welcome treat on the first day back after the Christmas break and then again in mid-January once we were feeling very fed up. Not only were they a spend we couldn’t have justified in January, but all but the most pricey tickets sell out pretty much the same day at the ROH. [You could also check out the Friday Rush at 1pm every Friday, where the ROH sell last-minute tickets for a variety of prices.]

2. Borrow a doggy

This isn’t a sponsored post, but we’re feeling a lot of love for BorrowMyDoggy… You do have to pay to sign up (£10 for borrowers), but you get matched with dogs in your area who might need occasional walking or looking after. Win – you get to hang out with a dog and you’re helping out someone in your community! Disclaimer: we haven’t tried it out ourselves yet, but have friends who love it.

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Return to Cornwall, part 2 – coastal paths and cosying up

[Haven’t read part 1 yet? You can find it here!]

You know we love the National Trust. They don’t sponsor our blog (maybe they should!), but they just always seem to appear in the right place at the right time, even when you haven’t planned it…

What we did plan was a day of walking, exploring the beautiful coastline around the Fowey area. One trip to the tourist information centre later, and we found ourselves with an invaluable National Trust map of walks. It took us to secluded coves…

View over bay near Fowey

We made friends with some frankly hilarious-looking pigs…

Pig

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Return to Cornwall, part 1 – exploring somewhere new

It’s time for the second (and final, sob) summer holiday post of the year… After our rather more exotic trip to the Algarve, we decided to re-run last year’s brilliant camping holiday to our beloved Cornwall. However, this time we thought we’d try somewhere new – Padstow, Mevagissey, we love you, but this year we drove to Fowey, two days before the miserably forecast Bank Holiday weekend.

Butterfly

But fabulous as Cornwall nearly always is, we arrived to its own micro-climate of bright sunshine and barely a cloud in the sky… Fowey welcomed us with brightly-coloured houses and bunting all over the town, steep hills to the car park (ouch!) and picturesquely narrow streets.

Coloured houses in Fowey

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A summer break in the Algarve, part 2 – exploring Tavira

Welcome back to Part 2 of our Algarve adventure (catch up with part 1 first if you haven’t already)! As well as exploring the city, we made sure to make some time for the beach – which, as we mentioned, was on its own island, the Ilha de Tavira. The ferry took us through the harbour and moored up on the edge of the beach:

Boats on the beach on Ilha de Tavira

We passed some fascinating natural wildlife, so to see it a bit more closely we took a tour in a small speedboat along the coast. We passed storks, white flamingos, egrets and other animals!

Storks around Ilha de Tavira

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A summer break in the Algarve, part 1 – trip to Tavira

We’re very British [and proud of it]. One of us is from Yorkshire, and the other one is so pale she’s blue in certain light. So 37°C in Portugal was both stunning and a shock to the system! We chose Tavira, a little town [technically a city but it certainly didn’t feel big enough to be] in the Algarve, because it looked attractive, historical and quirky. It’s also a pretty convenient 30-minute train ride from Faro, where the airport is located.

The town is built on a river, with extensive beaches on an island a short ferry ride away. This didn’t put us off, and we’re glad, because the ferry was reasonably priced, cooled us down and made a trip to the island that bit more of an occasion.

Tavira

There was a festival on, and we saw some great evening performances in the town square. The town was also decorated with a nautical theme:

Festival decorations in Tavira

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Cornwall part 3 – Mevagissey

As a bit of a surprise after three nights’ camping, on the final day we drove to Mevagissey, a part of Cornwall I’d never previously been to (or heard of!). A gorgeous little fishing village nestled into the side of a hill, it struck me as being rather like Padstow without the tourists. [I fell in love with it instantly.] We stayed in the wonderful Tregorran Guest House with beautiful views over the harbour.

Mevagissey at dusk

As the sun set, we were captivated by the light and the different colours of the houses…

Mevagissey harbour

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Cornwall part 2 – Lanhydrock

On one of our Cornwall days the weather was looking faintly ominous, so we decided to visit Lanhydrock, a National Trust property near Bodmin. With over 50 rooms open to the public alongside beautiful gardens and over 900 acres of land, it was possibly the most impressive National Trust visit I’ve ever had. The focus of the Trust’s vision is to bring the family (the Agar-Robartes) alive for visitors, and they certainly managed to do so for us.

From the impressive gatehouse, built in the 1500s, down the drive to the house, largely burned down and rebuilt in high Victorian style in the 1880s, we were discovering gorgeous architecture and interesting details throughout our visit.

Gatehouse

Doorway in the main courtyard:

Door

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