Our Sixth Valentine’s Day

I’ve always liked Valentine’s Day. I’ve never been one of those people who despises the day and all it stands for. Even when I didn’t have a Valentine, I still liked the idea of it.

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This week, like a lot of couples, we celebrated Valentine’s Day together. We didn’t do anything particularly special except get each other a couple of gifts. When you live together and you have the opportunity to go out for dinner when you please, it seems less tempting to go out on a night specifically when bars and restaurants decide to whack up the prices, just because supposedly we should be going out for dinner together. Plus, when you have America to save for, things have to prioritise!

I wanted to just write a post just to chat. Give a sort of lifestyle update. It’s something I haven’t been able to do in a long time and I felt like my blog needed it. From all the product reviews, travel guides and different bits and pieces, I’ve felt restricted. I wanted to use Valentine’s Day to share some love to Alex and reflect on the past Valentine’s Days that we’ve celebrated.

A lot of people say you should show love everyday not just on valentine’s. Well, you can do bothWe celebrate most weekends and we’re good to each other nearly all of the time. But we still celebrated. Just in our own little way. My blog was able to treat us both to lots of gifts, which you can have a nosy at on my Valentine’s Gift Guide. 

On Valentine’s morning 2019, I woke up to the sound of Alex rustling in the living room, though I wasn’t really sure what he was doing. It was 7am and I wasn’t anywhere near ready to get up yet. When I eventually arose at 8, I found an elephant lego kit, 20 red roses, a jar of love sweets and a notebook with a letter inside. The notebook is to start planning a book. Something I keep talking about doing. There’s no better time to start it than now. So, here I am, February 14th 2019, I have written the first chapter of a book. Only time will tell if I finish it.

Elephant Lego kit

We were also really lucky to receive a map from mapiful of Manhattan, through pure coincidence, it arrived on Valentine’s Day. It couldn’t have been planned better! We did receive this as a press sample but without obligation to post it anywhere.

Mapiful map of Manhattan New York

I’ve always liked Valentine’s Day. I’ve never been one of those people who despises the day and all it stands for. Even when I didn’t have a Valentine, I still liked the idea of it. It is a nice way to celebrate love and relationships. I mean, I can see the whole but shouldn’t you be doing that everyday kind of thing, but isn’t that the same as everything? I wanted Christmas every day when I was younger, but it doesn’t mean it should be. The novelty soon wears off. It’s nice to have a set day where you sit back, reflect and share a gift of appreciation. This doesn’t mean you can act like trash the rest of the year though…

Alex and I are fairly well balanced. I think it’s why we work. I’m quite fiery and argumentative at times and Alex is so laid back that I’m sure he’s almost horizontal. Nothing fazes him and it just goes over his head. Me, on the other hand, I worry about every little tiny detail. Whether it’s someone not including me in some way, a dodgy look or a comment. I take it all in and over analyse everything. But, then there are ways that I just work better. I’m organised and proactive. Alex fits right in with the Spanish lifestyle, things can wait until mañana, or never… Whereas me, I have to do things now and quickly.

We’re pretty good at sharing out the apartment too. Some people are constantly complaining that their boyfriends aren’t doing enough around the house and when we moved my friends would say, “yeah but wait until you live together, he’ll drive you crazy when he doesn’t do…” But, he doesn’t. Alex cooks and I wash up. The rest of the housework, I usually do, but the little bits to finish off Alex does. Alex walks Rio for the majority of the walks. Big jobs, like clearing the washing machine filter and windows is strictly Alex’s territory, whereas hoovering, dusting and power-gliding are my jobs.

We make it work.

We don’t argue about money. If I want to buy something, I do. The same goes for Alex. We don’t keep tabs on who has what. Even though it’s definitely me who spends more. It evens out with gifts from the blog and the fact we earn the same each month. Well, in actual fact we never really argue, at all. 

It’s our sixth Valentine’s this year, though really it’s our fifth. Our first one, we’d only just started speaking, I was in Spain and Alex was on some stag do somewhere. He asked me to be his Valentine by googling the first image on Google saying “be my valentine” in scrabble letters via Twitter. Well, I didn’t take much convincing. I don’t really think we can count that one as a true Valentine, even though we did go on our first date to the cinema the following Friday…

It’s funny, growing up I always wondered who and where I’d end up with. How many children. Pets? I sort of expected I’d end up in Spain or America. But, it’s always one of those, will I though, things. I used to wish I could zoom forward and look, like in the Christmas Carol where he gets to see his future. Just to see what happens. I’m happy with how mine is panning out.

In light of all the reflection, here is how we have spent the last Valentine’s Days together. Be prepared for some serious hair changes!

Valentine’s Day 2015 

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I had to scour the internet to find a very old blog that I used to run to find some more information on this one. I won’t bore you with the details or send the traffic over there because well, I would rather not! Basically, it was a fashion page where I would find dupes of celebrity outfits and post about my outfits of the day. Imagine me… fashion?! The girl who normally wears jeans and jumper?! I couldn’t keep up, which is why it didn’t last long! 

Anyway, back in 2015, Alex booked us for a surprise trip away for the weekend. We stopped at a rustic hotel in the English countryside. He treated me to lots of Victoria’s Secret, which I was massively into at the time and we went down for a lovely steak meal. It was certainly the best Valentine’s I’d ever had… up until then.

Valentine’s Day 2016

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I feel a little awful about this one, it took me to rummage through Facebook to actually find how we celebrated. It wasn’t that it was forgettable, it’s just that it wasn’t particularly... memorable?  In 2016, we got engaged. Now, it wasn’t until Christmas time. 2016 was a crazy year in terms of travel, we headed off to Barcelona and Rome and spent the summer in Spain. So, with such a busy and fabulous year, Valentine’s Day didn’t really stand out. Any other year, it would have.

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For Valentine’s itself, I was in Spain with my mum and we headed off to Altea, so the next day when I got back, Alex drove us to Cardiff for a night stay at Mermaid Quay. When we got to the hotel, he pulled out some flowers and a card and a speech. I’m not going to lie to you, I thought he was going to propose to me in a Travelodge in Cardiff. Instead, it was a promise ring. We went out for dinner at one of our favourite restaurants, Las Iguanas, for fajitas and tried to see as much of the Welsh capital as it tipped it down of rain.

Valentine’s Day 2017

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2017 was one of my all-time favourite Valentine’s Days. It was the one where we headed to Budapest. We stayed at the Lanchid 19 hotel in Buda and the views and the meal and everything about the few days away were just perfect. We were both working in a school at this time, so as Valentine’s fell on February half-term we were able to nab a few days away.

Valentine’s Day 2018

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Amidst the craziness of being evicted from our apartment out of nowhere and finding ourselves struggling to get ourselves organised and funds together to move apartment, Valentine’s Day passed in a crazy haze. I remember crying on the sofa of our hollow shelled apartment thinking what a mistake Spain had been and why we’d bothered to uproot. It ended up being the change of everything and a brand new start. We moved into our new apartment, which is much bigger, nicer and cosier and never looked back. It wasn’t such a bad Valentine’s in hindsight, after all. We did have a meal out at Gino’s though, which is our favourite Italian restaurant here!

I’m very lucky to have found my someone. If you don’t have yours yet, there is somebody out there for you, you just haven’t discovered them yet, x

Happy Valentine’s 2019.
Here’s to many more,

Hasta luego,

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Cover image and 2015 photos: Holly Photography
2018 image: Gohar Photography

 

 

2019 Valentine’s Day: Useful Gift Ideas for Him and Her

Whether you’re looking for a gift for your girl pals, or you aren’t sure what to get for your significant other, I’ve searched far and wide across the internet to find out what really are some of the best gifts to get for Valentine’s Day 2019.

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Every year there is an evident amount of negativity that circles Valentine’s Day and this year, I want it to be positive. I want to celebrate Valentine’s Day in a way in which we can. Last year, in the chaos of having to find an apartment in less than a month, Valentine’s Day got overlooked. This year, I don’t want it to. I want it to be special.

Whether you’re looking for a gift for your girl pals, or you aren’t sure what to get for your significant other, I’ve searched far and wide across the internet to find out what really are some of the best gifts to get for Valentine’s Day 2019.

Gone of the days where we head to the local card shop and pick up a novelty gift and a card. I just don’t see the point in it. We pick up a mass-produced card that has all of these mass-produced words and a picture of a bear on the front holding a bunch of flowers and a box of heart-shaped chocolates. It all heads to the dustbin less than a week later. What’s the point? It just seems a waste.

This year, I’ve compiled a list of useful products for him and her for Valentine’s Day. Products that will last and last. Products that they’ll love. Whether that’s something to brighten up the home, a new fragrance or something a little bit edgy, it’s certain to brighten up their Valentine’s Day. After all, they deserve it. (Or Alex certainly does for putting up with me year in-year out!)

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Some of these products are expensive and luxurious, some are sentimental and lovely and others are affordable yet awesome. I’ve tried to vary the ideas to suit everybody’s budget, everybody’s needs and everybody’s likes. But, after all, we can’t please everybody!

So, without further ado: here are my recommended gift ideas for Valentine’s Day 2019.

The products mentioned below were gifted to me. I was not paid to post this. Some products that were gifted to me have not been included as I didn’t find them suitable.

Sentimental Gifts

A Mapiful Poster

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Shop Mapiful

Imagine a way to capture your special place with a custom-made map or poster. A unique gift that you can put up in your home to remember the place where you fell in love, first met or even got engaged. With Mapiful, it’s possible. The world is at your fingertips.

Back in 2017, Alex got down on one knee on a secluded island just off of Venice. Out jumped a photographer ready to capture the entire thing. I had mentioned, a few years before, that when somebody proposes to me, they better have a photographer ready and waiting so that I have the entire moment to capture. Well, Alex delivered.

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We had a photographer capture the entire day. We have photos of Alex on one knee and my initial reaction, plus we had a photo shoot with my family around San Marco and on the gondola. They definitely make for some lovely keepsake photos.

When I saw Mapiful, I knew I had to bring the magic of Venice to our home. You use their easy to use the online site to type the place you want to see, I nearly chose New York or the Magic Kingdom, they all look so beautiful and there are so many special places! Once you’re happy with the amount of zoom in and the design you’re after, there are plenty of choices, such as Pantone and night time mode too, so take a look to see which one suits your home the best, it’s then a case of waiting for it to arrive.

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My Mapiful map for Alex arrived within 5 days, which was perfect. It comes well packaged so you don’t have to worry about it getting damaged in transit. It’s a stunning map and definitely the best quality and looking one I’ve come across on the internet!

Use the mapiful discount code imlaurenbate10 at the checkout for 10% off!

RRP: 50€

A Love Book

Create your Love Book online

Looking for a personalised gift book that says why you love them? You might not have been before, but you definitely should look at one now. One of the most romantic gifts you can give is one that you have personalised and highlighted so many different reasons why you love them and stick with them every day.

It’s one of those books that is so sentimental and thoughtful, that it may just bring a tear to their eye, it brought a tear to Alex’s eye! We love looking through ours – there’s a page that says “re-read this book if you’re ever mad at me so you forgive me quicker” and that’s a great one to add it! I also love the travel and kayak aspect of it – it feels so much more personal. Another page we love is the “you know every sports stat ever” because if you know Alex, you’ll know this is so true to him!

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Love Book online just captures the whole meaning of Valentine’s Day. Sure, we tell each other we love each other regularly, but isn’t it nice to have a day dedicated to just rekindling why the love is there? Showing appreciation. Showing love.

Telling and showing someone why they are so special has never been easier than creating a love book. Each LoveBook is a custom made book of little reasons why you love someone. You can customise the book as little or as much as you like.

For Alex, I opted for the hardcover colour book, which allowed for a more in-depth customisation of the characters (us!). There are plenty of ready-made pages to add into your book, plus the option to add your own custom pages. No two LoveBooks are the same!

Add as many pages as you like with no alteration to the price!

Get 15% off with the LoveBook discount code: lbatelbvday15

RRP: €33+

1 Second Everyday Pro Subscription

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Download 1SE 

I have shouted a lot about 1 Second Everyday and it’s for a very good reason. The video diary has been hands down the best app I ever paid for. You can read about my 2018 with 1SE by following this link: 2018: A Year in Review – 1 Second Everyday.

The priceless app mashes together second-long snippets of your life into a compelling movie. A movie that you’re the star of. With built-in reminders, simple editing tools and aesthetic design – it’s everything you need and more to build your own memorable narrative.

We all have subscriptions here and there, whether it’s Netflix or music. But, 1SE is one that will truly benefit you if you’re serious about your video diary.

There are some incredible features and I’d urge you to try the 14-day free trial to see what you think. My favourite features are definitely the longer snippets, the unlimited backup and the addition of royalty free music!

Toiletries

The Perfume Shop

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Shop Black Opium with EXCLUSIVE YSL BAG

One of the most anticipated fragrances right now is the Black Opium Eau de Parfum by Yves Saint Laurent. Black Opium is a compelling fragrance with tones of black coffee, white florals and vanilla. It’s the ultimate glamorous woman’s fragrance.

The bottle is a bold black with decorated with sequins that give the impression of the ultimate rock girl.

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I would recommend buying Black Opium for your loved one from The Perfume Shop this Valentine’s. We all love a little gift with our goods, well, with the purchase of any Black Opium fragrance over 50ml at The Perfume Shop, they are gifting an exclusive free YSL pouch and miniature mascara.

RRP: £72+

Indulge Beauty

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Shop Indulge Beauty

Perfect for the man on the go, Indulge Beauty, part of The Fragrance Shop umbrella have the ultimate starter kit that contains everything the man in your life will need to keep his grooming regime at the top of its game.

The Ecooking men’s starter kit is a little set of 5 essential products for men’s grooming. It is filled with everything they would need for daily skin and hair care. The products are all organic and free from parabens and dyes.

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The set contains:

Hair and Body Soap: A lightly refreshing soap that can be used for both hair and body. With uplifting citrus scents, it leaves skin, hair and the scalp well-groomed and nourished.

Cleaning gel: A deep cleansing face and body bursting with fresh citrus fragrances. It leaves the skin cleansed and moisturised.

cooking mens gift set

Beard and Body Oil: A little bottle of oil is the perfect essential in the house. A multifunctional oil can be used in so many different ways, not just the beard or the face. Suitable for footbaths, nail oil, body oil and even massage – it’s a handy little beauty essential.

Face Cream: Something Alex was in desperate need of! A deeply moisturising and nourishing facial cream suitable for all ages and skin types. The cream works quickly into the skin and is non-greasy. It’s suitable for daily use.

e cooking mens gift set

Wet Wipes: Women are almost known for being the ones stocked up with wet wipes, but these wet wipes draped with aloe vera extract will make the man in your life consider packing wet wipes! The soft wet wipes cleanse and moisturise the face. They’re also good for cleaning up after dinner, on the go!

The set is packed in a practical transparent bag that complies with airline regulations, so it’s perfect for taking in your hand luggage. Better still, the bag is produced with EVA material which is degradable, therefore ethically for the environment.

RRP: £43

Scent Addict Subscription

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Shop Scent Addict

Instead of one fragrance, why not treat them to a subscription of fragrances? Keep it fresh and keep it new by changing up which fragrance you have each month. The best part is you’ll continue sampling different fragrances so if you’re not keen on one, you haven’t spent out on a full-sized fragrance!

They are 8ml in size, which means they’re a perfect trip essential. For £12 a month, Scent Addict, brought to us by The Fragrance Shop, will deliver a beautiful atomiser bursting with your choice of fragrance, straight to your door.

They come in such gorgeous containers and they’re perfect for popping in your bag for on the go or putting in your hand luggage. I’ve been looking for ways to carry perfume around with me, as I didn’t want to carry my bulky fragrances, but also didn’t want just a boring smelling fragrance, so, the scent addict testers have been ideal.

scent addict hq review valentine gift subscription perfume

 

Scent Addict sent Armani Stronger With You for Alex and Giorgio Armani Sí For Her, Eau de Parfum. They’re both fragrances that I have loved for a while. I decided to go for the His and Hers for the first sample.

Sí Passione is my daily go-to fragrance which sits on my bedside table,  so it made sense to go for Sí For Her. Although different fragrances, I knew it would be a scent I’d love. The highly feminine fragrance is suitable for both day and night wear and has a floral scent, that oozes sophistication. It isn’t too overpowering which I really like. It is a real classy fragrance with tones of vanilla, it’s soft, delicate and not too sweet. It is light and airy that sits delicately of the skin.

Alex, however, was sent Armani Stronger With You, not that he had any clue about it until it arrived! I am a big fan of the Armani brand and their fragrances and I’d recently smelt Stronger With You at the airport, so I thought it was a good bet to opt for that one, and what a good bet it was!

Armani Stronger With You has mixed reviews online so I was a little bit nervous before it arrived as I wasn’t sure if Alex would like it. It’s a woody outdoorsy fragrance that has evident sweet smells. There is a burst of pink pepper and cardamom balanced out by the sage and amber wood tones. It is paramount of an autumn walk, I think. It is a lovely fragrance!

£12 per month

The Fragrance Shop

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Shop The Fragrance Shop

Inspired by the curves of a woman, Pure Aphrodisiaque is a beautiful looking and equally pleasing perfume that is both seductive and sultry. With a sweet fragrance, it still retains the sensuality that is known and loved by the lingerie brand, Agent Provocateur. If you’re into a light and floral scent, then Pure Aphrodisiaque is a splendid choice.

agent provocateur perfume valentines flatlay

Though light, the fragrance lasts on the skin throughout the day. It’s a really good fragrance for daily wear. I’m such a big fan of switching it up and changing my fragrances daily, so I’ve loved adding this one to the rounds. It isn’t my favourite fragrance, but it’s a great daily wear scent!

agent provocateur perfume valentines flatlay

agent provacteur perfume valentines gift

The scent itself is fresh and fruity with tones of amber, mandarin, pear and rum. It has a certain elegance surround it. The notes of wild orchid and jasmine harmoniously bring it together with the floral essences which just oozes Spring goodness.

RRP: £65

Philips OneBlade Face + Body

philips one blade hair and body review

Shop Philips

If there’s something the young man needs in your life, it’s a good shaver. We had been looking for a quality shaver for Alex that was both affordable and of high quality. It seems counterproductive to splash the cash on a shaver that doesn’t do the job or spend out on cheap shavers that constantly need replacing adding to more and more cost. Plus, we didn’t really want Alex’s face looking like he’d been dragged through a thorn bush either! We needed to find a quality, affordable yet efficient shaver. That’s when we found the Philips OneBlade Face + Body.

The Philips OneBlade is undoubtedly the best shaving experience Alex has had. He has really sensitive skin which usually poses a problem with harsh products and shaving. It wasn’t uncommon to see him with breakouts or red irritated skin with cuts. However, with the Philips OneBlade, it works excellently with the one blade, both wet and dry.

philips one blade hair and body review

Alex is one of those who doesn’t need to shave that regularly. He is able to leave it a few days (sometimes weeks!) and he still looks good. It must be love. He’s known to try different things quite often, whether that’s growing his hair long, or growing a bit of stubble – so the OneBlade is perfect for him as it comes with a three stubble body comb in 1, 3 and 5mm. It allows for precise trimming to exactly where he wants it.

The OneBlade shaver works at a fast-paced 200x per-second cutter which makes a smooth, gliding finish trimming face and body hair that grows in any direction. It makes shaving efficient and comfortable. Great for Alex who is always on the go!

The long-lasting battery is a definite highlight, the battery holds 45 minutes worth of styling and requires 8 hours of charging. The blades need replacing every four months, blade replacements retail at a very affordable £13.49!

The Philips OneBlade Face + Body comes with the shaver, 4 stubble combs, 1 body comb, 1 x blade for the face, 1 x blade for the body and the UK 2-pin bathroom plug.

RRP: £59.99

Slip Silk Pillowcase

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Shop Slip

Give the gift of the most luxurious beauty sleep they’ll have ever had before by switching out the cotton pillowcase and replacing it with a laboratory tested, dermatologically approved silk pillowcase. Since switching over to a silk pillowcase, it’s made me want to switch out the sheets and duvet for silk too.

After spending the weekend in Edinburgh, four days and four flights were pretty intense. Let’s not forget the lack of worthy sleep. So, when Monday evening came around and I was able to switch the pillowcase to Slip and try out the face mask, it was very welcomed. With no exaggeration, it’s the most valuable sleep I’ve had for a long time, perhaps even ever.

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A Slip silk pillowcase allows your skin to glide. The cotton scratches and tugs on your facial skin causing premature stretching and sleep stretches, whereas a silk pillowcase doesn’t. Whilst sleeping on a cotton pillowcase, it dries out your skin and hair and causes knots and twists which causes bed head, which is actually damaging your hair in the long term. When I woke up after using the silk pillowcase, there wasn’t any bed head, at all!

It’s perfect for tying together with your skincare regime too. Due to the reduced friction, it absorbs significantly less face cream than cotton pillowcases, meaning the skincare regime your doing stays on your face, where you want it!

Backed by celebrity hairstylings, dermatologists, beauty experts and even some well-known supermodels and celebrities (take a close look in the back of a Kardashian bedroom shot and you’ll see slip!) and now little me. The Slip pure silk pillowcase is part of your beauty regime. It’s beauty, not bedding.

engagement ring and slip silk pillowcase

I’d definitely recommend pairing the pillowcase with an eye mask too. It was delicate on the skin and actually blocked out all of the light. The best part was when I woke up, it was still on my face, where it should be! So many times I’ve given eye masks a try and either the light is visible under my eyes where my nose is or it’s been lost somewhere in the bed. A silk eyemask and silk pillowcase are the key to the perfect sleep. Beauty sleep exists.

Slip pure silk sleep masks and pillowcases are 100% pure silk, inside and out. The original silk pillowcases, authentic is always best. Be aware of cheap imitations.

RRP: $50+

WUKA

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copyright: WUKA

 

Shop WUKA

WUKA wear is the world’s most comfortable, hygienic, luxurious and eco-friendly period underwear. Give the gift of a comfortable period that doesn’t stain the bed! Saving on bedding too. It is a complete tampon and pad replacement. You can wear it up to 8 hours on light days, 4-6 hours on your heavy days or all night. It holds at least 20ml of period flow or light leaks – around 4 tampons worth. Previous customers have run marathons in a heatwave, gone to school and slept peacefully in a pair of WUKA.

I have recently got my hands on a pair of WUKA’s with the matching bralette and they are so comfortable, flattering and functional. No more ruining Boux Avenue! When they arrived I was very pleasantly surprised with how flattering the bralette is. The underwear has a protective layer inside which sounds strange when you’re touching it, but when you wear them, they’re so comfy and you don’t hear the rustling sound!

The bralette is super comfortable and it’s been one that I’ve started wearing regularly. It has a flattering, comfortable feel and looks beautiful too. I’ve definitely been converted. They would make a fabulous gift.

RRP: £23.99+

BIODERMA

I have raved about BIODERMA since trying them out before Christmas, which you can see here: Bioderma , and I’m absolutely sold that they’re the best for my highly sensitive skin. I have seen a drastic improvement in my skin and the little bumps on my forehead are now pretty much non-existent.

The BIODERMA Hydrabio H2O Reverse Pump (RRP: £19.50) is a gentle yet deeply cleansing cleanser that is dermatological micellar water – we all know how much I love micellar water now!

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It is formulated to give a no-rinse cleanser that lifts dirt and makeup away from the face without upsetting our natural skin balance. I especially like that it takes away water-resistant makeup so easily too!

It works to combat tight and dry skin and performs a deep cleanse to leave skin fresh, calm and comfortable. I have been in love with BIODERMA since first trying it out and coming from somebody who had trouble finding products thanks to their super sensitive skin, I have found BIODERMA to be an absolute godsend.

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BIODERMA Sensibio Eye Contour Gel (RRP: £15) is a major gamechanger in the whole sleepy eyes, dark circles and sensitiveness. It provides daily decongesting, soothing and hydrating care for the eye contour area. It works to reduce puffiness and erase fine lines and works to increase your skins own tolerance threshold. Plus, with it being from BIODERMA it’s ideal for any skin type.

Whenever I wake up with sore or tired eyes, I apply a little of the gel after using the Sensibio H20 and massage gently until it’s absorbed and it gives instant relief from discomfort and irritation. It is suitable for contact lens users and it’s okay to use as a base layer under make-up!

Travel and Luxe

An American Tourister Suitcase

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Shop American Tourister

For the well-travelled amongst us, a brand-new suitcase is always welcomed. The four-wheeled Herolite Spinner 75 is a perfect gift for the travel lovers who are heading off on a holiday. Weighing just 2.2kg, you’ll be shocked at just how light it is, meaning extra weight for them to pack what they want to take (and bring back!). 

The design of the American Tourister Herolite Spinner 75 is innovative, sleek and fashionable with durable materials and plentiful space. It really is a fantastic travel companion.

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No detail has been missed with good packing options, which includes an interior mesh pocket and cross-ribbons in the bottom compartment to keep everything in place. There are two roomy front pockets too.

Another key feature of the Herolite Spinner 75 is the TSA padlock which allows for worry-free travelling to the USA.

RRP: £105-£125

An Afternoon Tea at The Colonnades, Edinburgh

afternoon tea at the colonnades

Book An Afternoon Tea

For a taste of luxury and an afternoon tea that they’ll remember, a trip to The Signet Library is a perfect choice. With delicate sandwiches with seasonal goods and light and airy cakes to make your mouth water, they are sure to love the entire experience in the historical, beautiful setting. The ambience and atmosphere will be nothing short of luxurious and memorable.

RRP: £35pp

A Romantic Getaway with Flybe

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Search for Flights with Flybe

What better way to celebrate Valentine’s than sneaking off on a romantic getaway? Alex and I loved to go away on Valentine’s Day when we used to have February half term. It was a perfect time for cheaper flights if you nip off a few days before and it really felt like a luxuriously romantic gift.

Flybe flies to gorgeous locations across Europe which would be perfect for a romantic getaway. You could be jetting off to Paris, Vienna, Prague Berlin, Geneva or Edinburgh to name just a few.

Whilst I was writing this, I took a look at some of the prices on the Flybe website, flying from Birmingham (BHX) to Paris (CDG) was only £118 per person for a four day getaway over Valentine’s!*

Don’t forget, Valentine’s Day falls on a Thursday this year, so you would only need to use two days of your annual leave to have a four-day romantic getaway!

*correct at time of writing [7.1.19]

Google Pixelbook

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The Pixelbook is a perfect gift for those who love to travel and need a nifty premium Chromebook. The luxurious Pixelbook comes at a price, starting from £999 it’s a beautifully designed piece of equipment which is certainly well-suited for on the go. It’s super thin and light, which can be placed in your hand luggage – ready to go wherever you are – whether that’s for work or play, it’s sure to be the ideal travel companion. Due to its pressure sensitivity and tilt support, it’s great for pairing with the Google Pixelbook Pen to create high-quality pictures on various apps such as SketchBook. See the world. Paint the world.

RRP: £999+

Books

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Two Can Keep A Secret

I absolutely loved The Breakfast Club and Pretty Little Liars was a gripping TV show, right until the last season of course, so I was excited to hear about Karen McManus’ books.

I have been really struggling to get back into reading recently, even though everyone will tell you I was such a Matilda when I was younger. I started by buying One of Us is Lying and it’s such a gripping novel that it got me wanting to read the second. A small town that keeps losing its homecoming queens? What exactly is happening in the picturesque town, nestled on the Canadian border? You’ll have to grab your copy of Two Can Keep a Secret to find out!

Stationery

Mr Wonderful

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Shop Mr Wonderful

Organising is one of my all-time favourite things. I just love sticking stickers and highlighting tasks (and adding things to my todo list that I’ve already finished so I have more things to cross off!).

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Mr Wonderful is a well-known established brand out here in Spain and it’s one that I knew about very quickly working in a school. It seems everybody is in love with Mr Wonderful and it’s not difficult to see why.

The aesthetically pleasing stationary is perfect for those who like to organise. They certainly look quite instagrammable too!

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I have recently got my hands on a desk calendar, weekly planner and a travel photo album. The card is so thick and durable which reassures me that once I start sticking photos or using my Stabilo highlighters that they’re not going to get ruined. I am really enjoying my planning with Mr Wonderful and I can’t wait to get stuck in with adding photos from our America trip in summer! All of the products come with stickers – and let me tell you – they are gorgeous!

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If you’re not celebrating Valentine’s, these gifts would be perfect for birthdays, anniversaries or even Christmas too! They are products that I have absolutely loved using recently and for certain they will bring a smile to your loved one’s faces. I hope it has given you some great gift ideas for this forthcoming year and I look forward to looking out for more gift ideas for you all to consider later on in 2019!

Hasta luego,

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Products mentioned in this gift guide were given to me as product samples to try out and feature.

 

 

 

Top 10 Things to See and Do in Benidorm

No need to splash the cash on expensive tours, because with this guide, you’ll be visiting like a local. 

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Saturday 6th October: Day 6 of Blogtober

If you’re on the lookout for the unmissable things to see and do in Benidorm on your holidays, then you’re in luck.

It’s all well and good having a long list of ideas, but if you’re only here for a week or so, it can be hard to know what to prioritise, after all, you still want some relaxing pool and beach time too!

That’s why I’ve done the hard work for you and comprised my list of the Top 10 Things to See and Do in Benidorm. So, if you’re planning for a winter getaway or you’re already looking at your 2019 holidays, then this should help with your planning.

They are all activities that can be fit into a short holiday and the best is, they are all low-cost activities in Benidorm. Trust me, you’re guaranteed to have a good time. No need to splash the cash on expensive tours, because with this guide, you’ll be visiting like a local.

1. Stand on the Viewpoint of Europe’s Tallest Hotel

Thee Mirador of gran hotel Bali, Benidorm beach in the distance and the island

If you’ve heard been to Benidorm before, you’ll have definitely seen the Gran Hotel Bali. It’s the beautiful skyscraper that looms over the Poniente seafront. But, did you know it’s currently the tallest hotel in Europe? For unmissable views of Benidorm, Puig Campana, Calpe and Alicante, head to the Mirador of the Gran Hotel Bali.

Cost: Around 5€ per person.

2. A Day Trip to Guadalest

Guadalest is somewhere we have visited many times and it’s always a fabulous day out. The stunning blue water, the winding narrow streets and the atmosphere is one on its own. There are amazing views from Guadalest and it really is a special gem for the Costa Blanca. You could pair this with a trip to Algar Falls, where you’ll find crystal clear cool waters.

Cost: You can take a blanket tour up to Guadalest for free, having to sit through a 40-minute presentation, but no hard selling. Alternatively, you can take the local Llorente bus, which runs once a day each way. You could also take a trip on one of the locally arranged tours which are around 20€ per person.

3. Head to The Old Town

One of the most beautiful spots in Benidorm and truly an unmissable part of your holiday. Located in between Levante and Poniente beach is the stunning Mirador. Make sure you take a walk around the winding streets, have a look inside the church and taste some of the best tapas you’ll find along Tapas Alley.

Cost: The church is free to enter. Drinks are the standard price on Balcon del Mediterraneo and Tapas is around 7€.

4. Have a Drink at the Bar Planta 20 

This is truly one of the best bars in Benidorm and somewhere you must visit whilst you’re here. It has stunning decor and boasts amazing views. Located on Floor 20 of Hotel Madeira, it’s a good excuse to get dressed up and have a drink or two admiring the view. Sunset is one of the best times to visit!

Cost: Free entrance, just pay for your drinks.

5. Take a Day Trip to Villajoyosa

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Villajoyosa is a lovely city located next to Benidorm, heading towards Alicante. You can have a great day out and spend very little. Take the tram from Benidorm in the direction of Luceros and get off at Creueta. Whilst you’re there, make sure you wander around the coloured houses and the square, have a drink on the beach front and visit the Valor factory, which is the famous chocolate factory across Spain!

Cost: Chocolate factory tour is free, the tram is 1.35€ per person each way.

6. Watch the Sunrise or Sunset on the Beach

Another unmissable activity in Benidorm is definitely admiring the marvels of the sky during sunset and sunrise. Who needs fancy shows when the sky does it for free? Isn’t nature amazing?! Head to Levante beach for sunrise and Poniente beach for sunset. Take a picnic and you’re set up for the night!

Cost: Free

7. Game Day at La Marina Shopping Centre Finestrat

If you’re looking for a fun packed day without having to keep moving around, you can plan a fun-filled family activity day with stuff to keep everybody entertained all under one roof. At C.C La Marina, they have a cinema, mini golf course, bowling alley, shopping, bars, cafes and an arcade. You can have a game day without having to leave! Take the tram from Benidorm to C.C La Marina.

Cost: Tram is 1.35€, arcade games are around 1€ each, mini golf is 3€ each and the bowling alley is around 5€ each.

8. Take a Day Trip to Altea

Blue domed church in Altea, Spain

Cut out the day trips and see Altea for yourself. Take the tram from Benidorm or the bus and spend a day in Altea at your own pace. Be sure to head to the beach front to see the wonderful coastline, but also head up to the church and around the paved, cobbled streets for a complete contrast to Benidorm.

Cost: 1.35€ on the tram or 1.50€ on the bus.

9. Hike to the Benidorm Cross

The Benidorm cross boasts amazing views of Benidorm. Located just past rincon, it’s a bit of a hike so don’t forget water and suncream if it’s a hot day! You could also hire a bike, quad bike or car if walking seems like too much effort.

10. Watch a Tribute Act

If there’s something the Benidorm nightlife offers that is pretty unique, it’s its vast Tribute Acts. There is plenty to take your interest, Ariana Grande, Little Mix, Rod Stewart, Queen and more. The tribute acts are absolutely fantastic and make for a great night out, plus you don’t have to pay entrance, just make sure you’re buying drinks! To find out where the tribute acts are on, head to this post here: Tribute Acts and Cabaret Bars in Benidorm

Cost: The price of your drinks.

If you’re looking for a more extensive list, then take a look at the Benidorm Bucket List!

Have a great time in Benidorm!

Hasta luego,

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The Ultimate Spain Bucket List: 40 Things to See and Do in Spain

Top 40 Things to See and Do in Spain

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This post contains affiliate links to recommended products.

Now that I’ve been to nearly every part of Spain, including the Islands, can I officially start referring to myself a Spain Blogger?

I mean, my entire blog focuses around Spain, whether that’s things to do in Spain, places to go in Spain, life in Benidorm and Spain or connecting the rest of the world to Spain.

I thought it was high time I posted the Ultimate Spain Bucket List.

One of my favourite things about Spain is the history. You can drive for a little while and you feel like you’ve gone so much further. Each area has its own history, culture and way of life. It truly is amazing to see.

Spain has also had such an interesting history. This means different areas have different influences. This has massively affected their architecture, way of life and landscape.

We’ve seen our fair share of Spain now and let me tell you, it’s all beautiful so this list was difficult! If you’re looking for the best of Spain or you’re here to see how many you’ve already ticked off, then stick around because here is my Ultimate Spain Bucket List.

1. Take the Gaudi Trail in Barcelona

Barcelona is renowned for its incredible Gaudi architecture. Make sure you see all of his beautiful pieces in Barcelona.

Recommended: Lonely Planet Guide to Barcelona

2. Take Part in La Feria de Abril in Seville

The April Fair in Seville is held two weeks after Easter. It runs for six days and is filled with gorgeous flamenco shows and heaps of culture.

Recommended: Lonely Planet Andalucia Guide

3. Enter the Alhambra in Granada

Standing proudly in Granada, this palace is one of the most iconic monuments in not on Granada, but in Spain. Its design, mosaics and views are all breathtaking, to say the least.

4. Witness the Bonfires of San Juan

The Hogueras of San Juan is something not to be missed in the Alicante region. It begins on the 20th of June and lasts until 29th June.

5. Marvel at The Cathedral Pilar in Zaragoza

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The Catedral-basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza is so beautiful. Stand on the bridge to get the best view of it.

Recommended: Spain Guide

6. Go to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum is so unique and a true icon of Bilbao. We loved seeing the Guggenheim in Bilbao, it’s really a unique piece of architecture. The best view is from the bridge!

Recommended: Guide to Bilbao

7. See the Arts and Science Museum in Valencia

Where life and science come to life. It’s an interactive museum with plenty of things to do and see inside. You can also do some zorbing and kayaking on the water surrounding it!

Recommended: Lonely Planet Valencia

8. Hike the Camino de Santiago

To complete the popular route of the Camino de Santiago, the walk will take around 30 – 40 days. You’ll need to walk around 25 kilometres a day. It’s popular for many reasons, it’s easy to do as it’s well marked, it’s a sociable event, you can walk side-by-side and it’s flat, easy walking.

Recommended: Hiking BackpackHiking Water BottleAnker Power Bank

9. Walk the Bull Run in Pamplona

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Not recommended to do whilst the bull run is happening. Pamplona is a beautiful city and it’s well worth walking the path of the bull run, to say you’ve done it!

10. Throw Tomatoes in La Tomatina

La Tomatina is a Valencian celebration that happens in Buñol in August. It’s the world’s biggest tomato fight and it’s guaranteed to get messy!

11. Visit Mount Teide in Tenerife

Standing tall at 12,198 feet above sea level, it’s the highest peak in all of Spain!

12. Eat Pintxos in San Sebastián

Renowned for its world famous tapas, make sure you eat your way through the Spanish culinary capital. The pricey Michelin starred restaurants such as Akelare and Arzak are the best!

13. Ride a Rollercoaster at PortAventura

Located in Salou, Spain, just one hour away from Barcelona. It is one of Europe’s most iconic theme parks.

14. Drink Rioja in Rioja

Who can go to Rioja and not drink some Rioja wine?! The wine region of Spain is located in the North of Spain with its capital being Logroño.

15. Sunbathe in Malaga

With cheap flights from the UK, Malaga is a great place to soak up some sun. Make sure you visit the most beautiful port of Puerto Banús.

16. Party in Ibiza

Ibiza, where the party never stops. Make sure you head to the beach and watch the most beautiful of sunsets too!

17. See the Toledo Alcazar

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The Alcazar of Toledo is a beautiful building, but to get the best of it, head just out of the city and on to the bridge where you can get some stunning photos of the Alcazar looming in the background.

18. See the Legends of Segovia

By popular demand, I’ve added Segovia to my Spain Bucket List. No visit to Segovia is complete without visiting the famous Aqueduct which towers over the city. It defies the law of gravity with a staggering 166 arches spanning a massive 17km. Don’t forget to visit the beautiful cathedral and Alcazar too!

19. Visit the Pink Lakes of Torrevieja

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The Pink Lake of Torrevieja is the most Instagrammable spot on the Costa Blanca. Go at the right time and you’ll also see it is home to thousands of flamingos.

20. Enter the Royal Palace of Madrid

The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official home of the Spanish Royal Family, however, it is only used for ceremonies. Inside it is truly incredible, but photos are prohibited!

21. Visit the Mezquita of Cordoba

The mosque in Cordoba is the best part of the city and visiting it is your reason to go! Whilst you’re there, also visit the flower street. Just don’t go in summer when the flowers have all died off!

22. Have a Drink in Plaza Mayor, Madrid

This bustling square in Madrid is a gorgeous place to sit and relax with a glass of wine and a selection of tapas.

23. Walk the Narrow Streets of Albaicín

This world heritage district of Granada has some of the most narrow and winding streets in Spain. It’s a great neighbourhood to walk around and get a feel for the Medieval Moorish past.

24. Eat from La Boqueria, Barcelona

Fruit smoothies? Chorizo? You can get it all at La Boqueria. Located on Las Ramblas in Barcelona, it’s worth a visit to stock up on some foodie goodness.

25. Shop on Gran Via, Madrid

Gran Via is the busiest and most popular street in Madrid. It’s lined with some of the best retail shops. You’ll find an enormous Primark, which I spent way too long in…

26. Visit the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela

Pilgrims travel from all over the world to visit the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The cathedral marks the end of the Camino de Santiago. It’s a Roman structure building with Gothic and Baroque influences.

27. Watch the Magic Fountain of Montjuic Show

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Watch the lights and the water dance around in Barcelona at the free show at Montjuic. Make sure you check the times, during summer it’s Wednesdays to Sundays.

28. See the Views from the Ferris Wheel of Tibidabo

Did you hear the story from Friends of Tibidabo? Well, no visit is complete without soaring up in the skies of Barcelona in the Ferris Wheel and marvelling at the views below.

29. Surf at San Sebastián

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Get your surfboard at the ready and try out some of the best waves in the beautiful city of San Sebastian.

30. Visit the Olympic Park in La Seu

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A technical course used by the National Selection Team of Spain. It was built in 1990 for the use during the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Parc Olímpic del Segre is a great canoeing and kayaking facility in La Seu d’Urgell.

31. Have Paella Valenciana in Valencia

Fancy a traditional paella unique to the Valencia region? Head to the beach and try a traditional Valencian paella. But don’t park your car there! It’s where we had everything stolen!

32. Visit Devil’s Bridge

The Devil’s Bridge located near to Tarragona is part of the Roman Aqueduct. Entrance to the park to visit the bridge is free. For its surprising architectural design, it is actually very stable!

33. Eat at the World’s Best Restaurant

Get your fancy pants on and have dinner at the best restaurant in the world. Girona’s El Celler de Can Roca has been listed as the World’s 50 Best Restaurants twice now, in 2013 and 2015. You’ll have to book massively in advance, reservations are released on the first day of each month at midnight. They are snapped up usually within the hour!

34. See a Tribute Act in Benidorm

Have you really been to Benidorm if you haven’t headed to the strip and danced the night away with Little Mix and Queen? Head to my post about the Cabaret bars in Benidorm to know where to find them: Cabaret Bars

35. Ski in the Sierra Nevada

Ready for something more action-packed near the city of Granada? Stay in the Costa del Sol and you can combine sun and snow, by spending the morning on the beach and the afternoon skiing at the Sierra Nevada.

36. Visit the Tomb of Christopher Colombus

Located in the Cathedral of Seville, supposedly! His brother is definitely laid to rest there, but there is speculation around whether Christopher Colombus is buried in Seville or Santo Domingo. In 2006, Spain did DNA testing which proved the remains they have matches his brothers. However, Santo Domingo claimed he was never returned to Spain after he was laid to rest in the cathedral of Santo Domingo. It’s entirely possible that part of him is rested in both locations! Gruesome. Who said you can’t be in two places at once?!

37. Walk the Metropol Parasol

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Another fantastic element of Seville is the Metropol Parasol. Head below ground level and go up in the lift to see Seville from a whole new perspective. The “mushroom” design has brought some debate to the city of Seville, love it or hate it, it’s a great viewpoint.

38. Visit the Roman Amphitheatre of Cartagena

This historical element of the city is a small but well kept Roman amphitheatre. Entrance is 7€.

39. Take a Look at Intempo in Benidorm

This 47 story building in Benidorm currently remains uninhabited. The Intempo building is a great building to take a look at. Walk up from Poniente beach or take the tourist train that passes by.

40. See the Puppy in Bilbao

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Standing at the puppy in Bilbao, Alex and I were debating what it actually was. Alex thought it was a cat. In its permanent position, sitting near the Guggenheim Museum, the puppy has been guarding the doors of the museum since 1997. It is made up of tens of thousands of flowers and it’s a marvel to see.

There are plenty of things to keep you busy! Isn’t Spain wonderful?!

Hasta luego,

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Dingac Wine and Spanish Snacks on Benidorm Beach

Poniente Beach is one of the best places to go on an early evening. With a few snacks, a picnic blanket and a bottle of wine, you can be set up for a fair few hours.

Wine on the beach couple doing cheers

“Vamos afuera a tomar aire fresco”

When I was asked by G&V Public Relations if they could send me a bottle of Croatian Wine from The Wine and More, I was obviously all for it. I decided to plan for a picnic on Poniente beach to tie in with Alex’s birthday.

I wasn’t sure which wine they would send me, but I knew it was going to be a rose. I was thrilled when our wine arrived, nicely packaged, all the way from the Dingač wine growing region in the Dalmatian area of Croatia.

After a little bit of googling, I found out that the area itself is not exactly accessible, instead, it is just small, rural roads that run the length of the region. It sounds like up in the mountains around here!

I also found out that wine from the Dingač region is pretty good. We had the Saints Heels Rose 2017, and it was gorgeous. It was a light, fruity wine that didn’t leave you with a dry mouth or leave you thirsty. The heels on the bottle are so “me”, aren’t they?! If I was a bottle of wine, I’d be a bottle of Saint Heels.

Croatian Rose Wine on Benidorm Beach

I wasn’t surprised to find out that Dingač is an idyllic location for making red wines. With a Mediterranean climate like ours, lots of sunlight and being on a hill, it makes for perfect growing conditions.

Saint Hills Heels Rose was the perfect summer wine to compliment our picnic. It had a boost of flavour, rich with essences of strawberries and raspberries. So good, that even Alex drank the wine and didn’t reach for the Coca-Cola!

Girl laughing holding a bottle of rose wine with the beach in the background

If I could let you smell the bottle, I would. After it popped open, the aroma of light berries filled the air. Only for a split second before the sea breeze engulfed it, but it was a rich essence.

Poniente Beach is one of the best places to go on an early evening. With a few snacks, a picnic blanket and a bottle of wine, you can be set up for a fair few hours. It’s one of those places that you can sit back and watch the people watch, and let me tell you, people watching in Benidorm is one of the best places to people watch.

Beautiful beach picnic at night with a couple drinking wine

Even though it’s quiet, there are still things happening. Whilst we were sitting there, a yoga class came and went, which I wanted to join in with, the muscle club on the outdoor gym came and went, I swear I didn’t laugh when one attempted to be Mr Muscle and show off to the others and ended up falling, and people were heading in and out of cafe’s and bars, and a few people were walking along the shore. There’s always something to see.

The weather in Benidorm has been a little iffy recently. Will it storm? Won’t it? Well, let me tell you, it didn’t rain or storm, but the wind didn’t half blow. Those strawberries? They may have been covered in sand the second we opened the punnet. Alex ended up drinking some wine followed by a lump of sand that had made its way into his glass. Amateur.

Picnic of Fruit, Ham and Pastry Shells and a bottle of wine

We’d picked up a few snacks from Carrefour just before. We picked up a couple of empanadillas, which are gorgeous pastry shells, similar to Cornish pasties. I had a chicken and mushroom one and a meat one. Alex had a meat one and a chicken curry one. The empanadillas are made in Carrefour bakery and are a little more than a 1€. They’re a well worth it snack. We also got some cooked meat, a nut cocktail and some fruit.

We didn’t manage to get the beauty of the sunset, purely because the weather just didn’t want to cooperate. It’s not often I get to say that?! So, we didn’t get the pink sky, but the colours did have a beautiful hue of dark blues and deep purples, so it wasn’t all bad!

The best time is when it goes silent. The waves are the only sounds filling the air and the stars start to be visible over the horizon. It is getting quite cold at night now, so we didn’t stay too late. The goosebumps became too much! The shimmer of the lights from the surrounding buildings and the Tossal always gives such a beautiful effect and, of course, the Gran Hotel Bali was standing tall and proud as it always does in a way only the Gran Hotel Bali can do.

Girl drinking Croatian Wine on the Beach with a beautiful night sky behind

We’re very lucky that on a Monday evening after work, we’re able to head down to the beach and have a full evening date out, for less than 5€. Or 20€ if we’re including the wine!

A picnic on Poniente Beach is one of my favourite cheap dates in Benidorm.

Hasta luego,

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Thank you to G&V PR for arranging a beautiful bottle of Wine and More wine to be delivered to us. This post was not sponsored, however, I was given a free bottle of wine to try. This does not alter my views.

30 Date Ideas in Benidorm

Stick around because these are some of the best places you can go for a date

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I don’t know if you’ve ever googled “date ideas in Benidorm”, but if you haven’t – let me tell you that there is nothing on there.

Instead, what you find is “hen and stag do activities” or “hen do packages in Benidorm”. Hold up, that’s not exactly even remotely close to what I searched. We’re talking about a date here, not a bachelorette party!

Something I love doing is filling the internet with things that aren’t already there. What’s the point in writing only about things that are already at your disposal? I like to feel like I’m adding something valuable.

Sometimes, people like that it’s written in my voice and I love that. It’s like my Ordering a Coffee in Spain post. There’s plenty of coffee posts floating around on the web, but they don’t feature my photos or my favourites – It’s why blogs work. You trust who you know.

But this post is going to be special to me. I’m putting something out there brand new, that might just help some of you find romantic or fun date ideas to do in Benidorm. Even more fitting, today is Alex’s birthday. So, this post is dedicated to Alex. Happy birthday.

We’ve had our fair share of dates in Benidorm now and let me tell you, it is possible. If you’re looking for your first couples holiday or you’ve been coming for a while and just haven’t found the best spots, then stick around because these are some of the best places you can go for a date in Benidorm.

1. Plan a Picnic

This is something we’re planning to do this weekend. Head down to the beach, with a big blanket, candles, nibbles and a bottle of wine. Get there just before sunset. The best beach to go to is Poniente, you get to see the sunset at a great angle, plus there’s usually some boats crossing peacefully over the water. Try to get as close to the Tossal, as possible!

2. Take a Chocolate Factory Tour

Learn something and get chocolate whilst you’re there? Did I mention, it’s free?! The Valor Chocolate Factory in Villajoyosa is reachable by Tram from Benidorm for 1.35€ single each. Get off at Creueta and make sure you check the timetable online for what time the English tour is running.

3. Visit the Tossal and See the Sunset

If you love walking and you love sunsets, this one is perfect. It’s also completely free. The Tossal is in La Cala de Finestrat and from the top, you can see some absolutely amazing views. Marvel at Benidorm in the distance and watch the sky transform with an array of colours.

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4. Go to a Gala Dinner

Instead of just any dinner, go to the Benidorm Palace and have a fancy dinner. Plus, it’s a great excuse to get dressed to the nines and watch their fabulous cabaret show.

5. Go for Tapas on Tapas Alley

One of the best foodie spots in Benidorm without a doubt is Tapas Alley. Grab some nibbles and a glass of wine or a beer and do it like the locals do.

6. Sing Karaoke

Have a laugh and sing a duet. When in doubt, Danny and Sandy’s “Summer Nights” cannot be beaten. There are plenty of Karaoke spots in Benidorm and Finestrat. Voices Karaoke Bar is a popular Karaoke hotspot.

7. Stargaze

Light pollution can be pretty detrimental to seeing the stars. But, if you head down to La Cala beach or Poniente beach and look out to the horizon, you can usually see so many constellations. If not, head up the mountain into a small village and you’ll see some amazing stars.

8. Go-Karting

If you’re looking for a fun and exhilarating date then I’d definitely take a trip go-karting. There are two tracks, one is Karting Benidorm and the other is Karting Finestrat.

9. Go to a Fancy Bar and Dress Up

Get dressed up, go to a fancy bar, and try something off the exotic cocktails list. There are plenty of beautiful fancy bars in Benidorm. Hotel bars are usually a great place to start, The Hotel Madeira has an outstanding rooftop bar with magnificent views of Benidorm.

10. Head on a Mini Road Trip

If you have access to a car, take a trip to one of the beautiful villages outside of Benidorm. Get the music playing and see the wonderful mountainous views on route. For a quick but enjoyable mini road trip, I’d recommend MorairaOrxeta, Campomanes, Guadalest, Altea, Albir or Javea.

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11. Hit the Arcades

A great date idea is to head to the arcades. It’s guaranteed to bring lots of laughs and hopefully some healthy competition! There are a few arcades dotted in Benidorm, but the best one is on the roof of C.C La Marina Shopping Centre.

12. Go for a Massage

Did somebody say relax? Couples massages are just amazing unless you have a boyfriend like mine who hates them! There are plenty of massage spots around Benidorm. The Best Spa Hotels is a good place to start looking.

13. Work Together at an Escape Room

If you’re more adventure than romance then this one is definitely for you. There are three games available at Benidorm Escape Room: Zombies, Cold War and The Orphanage. All of them are cool games that will test your wit, plus you’ll still be laughing about it for weeks after!

14. Have a Five Course Dinner at Different Places

Instead of going to one restaurant, pick a bunch of different restaurants to enjoy various courses of your dinner date at. This is a typical Spanish activity! A starter at one, main at another and carry it on. Plus, it means a glass of wine at each place. Winning.

15. Ride Jet-Skis

Skimming across the water is an exhilarating and fun day whilst getting to admire the views of Benidorm. You’ll feel like you’re flying!

16. Find a Rooftop Pool and Go Swimming

Rooftop pools make for a great date spot. The Hotel Centro Mar and Hotel Flamingo Oasis have some great rooftop pools!

17. Go Shopping

Definitely not for all couples! But, you can head to C.C La Marina and do some shopping then finish it off at Jamaica for an amazing coffee with ice-cream.

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18. Meet for Drinks at Balcón del Mediterráneo

There are plenty of quaint bars at Balcón del Mediterráneo, have a sangria and admire the panoramic views!

19. Walk at Julio Iglesias Park

The Aigüera Park is a picturesque park behind the Town Hall of Benidorm. Have a stroll, but leave the pooch at home, no dogs allowed here!

20. Have a Game Night

Get out your favorite board game and have a game night date. If you’re on holiday, sometimes the hotels will have a stash of games in Reception. If not, there are plenty of Bazaars that sell them relatively cheap!

21. Go to the Zoo

Have a wander through Terra Natura and admire the elephants, tigers, monkeys and more! If you’re more of a thrill seeker, you can go to the theme park, Terra Mitica, or the water parks, Aqualandia or Aqua Natura.

22. Be a Keeper for a Day

This is such a fun activity, head to Mundomar and Be A Keeper for a Day. It’s amazing value too!

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23. Take a Hike

From heading up to the cross or the walks to the Albir Lighthouse or the climb to the Tossal, there are plenty of beautiful hiking paths in Benidorm.

24. Wake up at 5 a.m. and Watch the Sunrise

Not all great dates are at night. Get up early, curl up together, and watch the sunrise. Levante is one of the best places to see the sunrise in Benidorm.

25. Have a Bowling Competition

Head up to C.C La Marina to Bowling Paradise and see who can win! If you go on a Wednesday, there is a massive discount!

26. Watch a Film at the Cinema

Ahh, that typical date. But, give it a Spanish twist and watch a film in Spanish. You might not understand the words but you’ll understand the emotion. Curl up at the cinema at C.C La Marina or the one in Rincon.

27. Ice Skating

Falling and tripping is all part of the fun. Skate hand in hand around the ice rink that pops up at the Town Hall during December and early January.

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28. Flashback to Medieval Times

An evening at the Medieval Times is guaranteed to be a good night. The Magic Robin Hood have a dinner and a show and I’m desperate to go!

29. Relax at the Spa

A great way to relax or rejuvenate, depending on which one you pick! There are plenty of Spa’s scattered around Benidorm. The Hotel Dynastic in Benidorm has a refreshing, good-value one at their hotel.

30. Have an Afternoon Tea

You can have a lovely afternoon tea in Benidorm. The Hotel Don Pancho offer one as does the Loft in the Old Town.

Or… Head to the Beach or the Pool

After all, it’s about being together and whilst you’re here soak up the endless summer sun. The rocks at La Cala are a lovely place to sit and people watch. Sometimes, switching off is the best date you can have. Dates don’t have to be going out and doing things. Sit and relax by the pool.

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Happy birthday, Alex. Here’s to many more dates.

Hasta luego,

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Manners, Photoshoots and a Spanish Sunset

Manners…for something that is free, they hold so much value. 

“Gracias por todo”

Before speaking Spanish, the first sentence I ever learnt was “gracias por todo”.

Manners are important and when they say they cost nothing, they’re right. But, for something that is free, they hold so much value.

I’ve been fortunate to stay with friends in Madrid, Valencia, Alicante and Albacete. I have made such amazing friends in Spain and they are all friends that I keep in contact with.

Without speaking Spanish, I knew that my basics would get me by, but I wasn’t great. I didn’t really understand a word.

But, when a family opens their home to you, a simple thank you goes a long way.

More and more, I’m seeing “please” and “thank you” disappearing. People asking for information, without a manner in sight. People in the street. People hiding on their phone.

Then, I think about the Spanish language. How “please” is more of an order than a courtesy.  It’s funny when you think about cultures and how they differ. I definitely still haven’t learnt to not over-use “gracias” yet. 

This weekend, I finally had the chance to meet up with another one of my friends here in Spain, Gohar. Gohar is a photographer who lives in Alicante, so if you’re a business or somebody looking for some professional photos, hit her up! 

We finally arranged to meet in Benidorm, with her travelling by tram.

After an awful nights sleep, did anybody else get woken up at 4:00am by the worst crack of thunder on Saturday?! But, as they say, the show must go on!

We started by going for a drink to our local favourite bar, Fuxion, where the Instagram content is pretty strong. Ruben and Diego create a wonderful atmosphere in Fuxion and Ruben really works hard front of house to create the best experience for their customers.

Gohar is from Armenia and all that I have to compare to Armenia is the Kardashian’s, close enough, right?! 

Sunday was hot, about time, so we were able to head back to the pool, even though the water was freezing.

Now, for another slice of culture, or should I say a mouthful? Gohar came stocked up with some Armenian cuisine, Bulgur wheat. 

If you’ve ever heard of Bulgur wheat then I 100% salute you. This whole-wheat grain delicacy is high-fibre, low-fat and vegan-friendly. Strange is my only adjective. I mean, it’s okay. But, it definitely tastes healthy.

So, if you’re looking to spruce up your summer bod meal plans, why not incorporate some Armenian goodness?

Anyway, June 3rd, the first dip of 2018. Normally, it’s so much earlier in the year, where has summer been hiding this year?!

Rio had a little cameo before he was banished by somebody moaning. This is something I’m struggling to get to terms with. There is only a sense of community when it suits.

Everybody says hello to everybody. But, nobody looks out for each other. So far, we’ve been moaned at for having our curtains open in the day and our dog for being held in the garden. My friend says she has the police called for her baby crying briefly in the night?

At what point does this over-excessive moaning just become exasperating?

Next, we wanted to introduce Gohar to La Cala, she had never been to Benidorm!

The rocks make for a great photo spot. Getting Alex to take photos can be near enough impossible. But, Gohar managed it?!

Is it okay for me to say that we look cute? Alex has been growing his hair recently, obviously trying to fit in with the surfers around here. I’m not sure if he needs a guitar to turn into Cody Simpson or a skateboard (thanks for the inspiration, Mum).

La Cala has always been one of my favourite places in the area. Quiet, calm and tranquil. It’s that piece of paradise away from Benidorm.

We had planned to go to the fair at Villajoyosa, if you have children, it’s a great place to go, however, the rides were definitely targeted for younger children, so it wasn’t exactly the best photo opportunities, oops.

Instead, we made use of the Instagram’able’ locations of La Vila.

Further down from the beach, ten minutes walk from Creueta tram stop, there is a beautiful promenade that juts out.

From there, looking towards the sea, you can see Benidorm to your left and Alicante to your right. It’s also a perfect sunset spot.

I guess you could call this a pretty good Sunday! Gohar is going to be visiting a lot more often and taking the majority of the photos for my blog now, which is super exciting because she takes gorgeous photos. She just seems to capture moments so well. 

“Isn’t that what life is about? Capturing the moments. Not counting down for the big stuff, but appreciating the little things that happen too. They’re just as important.”

There are some pretty big changes coming soon, and I’m excited to share them with you all.

So, from me to you, the reader. Gracias for being part of my journey and making this possible.

To Alex, looks like you’re going to have to be in a lot more photos now!

Hasta luego,

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The Little Things

And isn’t that what life should be about? Celebrating all of the little moments. What better way than an app that reminds you to take your video. Take control of your life. Go outside. See the sunrise. Drink coffee with your friends. Watch that movie. Take a walk with your dog. Video it. Remember it. 

“La vida está hecha de pequeños momentos”

Life is made up of the little moments. Four years ago, on a hot summers day in Seville. After a walk around Maria Luisa Park, Alex and I stumbled across a small tapas bar, situated just outside of the Alcázar. Outside, stood a bar sign. But, this one was different. It had a quote on it.

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Milagritos Bar de Tapas, Seville

I knew back then that this was a quote that I would remember forever. 

When you look back on your year, what do you remember? Maybe the big holiday. Maybe it’s an engagement. Or a friend having their first baby. Maybe it’s starting a new job. But what about all the little things, the things that make up our lives.

How can we remember it all?

This brings me to December 2016. Inconveniently, after our engagement and after our summer travelling. I came across an app, that effectively has brought meaning to the quote that has stayed with me. Simple to use. Easy to master.

One Second Everyday. 

You only have to scroll down my Instagram to notice that I love photography. I love looking at photographs. I love taking photographs and well, let’s face it, I love being in photographs. I remember being given a Barbie camera for my 8th birthday, and by the end of the day, I had used up all of the film. But, other than the home videos, I hadn’t ever thought of videos.

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Not pictured: The Barbie camera used to take the photo

That was until 1SE came around.

This app helps you live in the moment. How often do you take a Snapchat video with your friends on a night out and then after 24 hours, you never see it again?  Or, post a boomerang to the Instagram story, and then the next day, it’s gone. What about that cute video of your dog, it starts to take up too much memory on your phone, so you move it to the computer and never see it again. We’re taking videos all of the time, so why not keep them somewhere we can actually see them?

Worried you’ll forget?

I love the daily reminder, it’s like, hey, don’t forget to do something worth watching today – you watched a new TV series? Cool! You finished your essay? Go you! You took your dog for a walk? NICE. You can scrub to the exact second of the video you want. For days when one second isn’t enough, try adding 2 seconds or 3. Or for complete flexibility, give freestyle a go. YOU’RE IN CONTROL. In a world full of craziness, isn’t it time we took back control?

It only takes one second to remind you of the bigger picture.

You probably couldn’t tell me what you were doing on February 3rd, 2017, could you? But I can. We went out for a meal with our friends. What about April 12th, 2017? We had our friend over from Madrid and we took her and Alex’s’ nieces to the farm. June 18th? It was super hot in England, so we got the pool out and had a big family BBQ. Small moments. Moments that would have been lost in the sea of a year.

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August 5th, 2017. The first visit to the water park.

Instead, they will always be remembered. 

And isn’t that what life should be about? Celebrating all of the little moments. What better way than an app that reminds you to take your video. Take control of your life. Go outside. See the sunrise. Drink coffee with your friends. Watch that movie. Take a walk with your dog. Video it. Remember it. 

Life is made up of the little moments. And we will remember them.

Imagining a movie that includes every day of the rest of your life yet? Sounds great right?

Why not have a peek at my finished product. When you watch this, watch how all the memories stitch together. Think of how much you get to know of me and my life. This video will never fade. It will never go to the back of a dusty cupboard. Now imagine it as your life.

So you see, 1SE sparks creativity!

I have seen people use 1SE for their life, their holiday, the growth of their baby, their pregnancy journey, their puppy, showcasing their creativity and monitoring their mental health to name a few. The limits are endless. The only limitations are your own imagination.

Until next time,

Lauren xo

 

 

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