Northumberland

I love getting away, I love exploring new areas, and I love to go away for my birthday! Yesterday, we arrived back from a three day trip to Northumberland, we stayed in an airbnb property, which was small but perfect for our needs- also a great price of £50 a night! It was in a lovely little village, with a nice pub opposite.

We spent time in Chillingham Castle, it was pretty quirky and interesting. It is apparently one of the most haunted castles in England- and I can believe that! It was taken over by Sir Humphrey Wakefield after it had been left to decay and rot for over 50years, he took the time to fix it up, including the ceilings in some rooms and get it back to its functional self. Sir Wakefield is a hoarder of interesting and random historical items, but as he has so much space to fill, he becomes a collector! We enjoyed the uniqueness of this place, it was much more than a castle and has such a rich history. I believe you can stay in the grounds and they do ghost tours, I didnt fancy that, I am a baby! The grounds are beautiful and we wandered through the woodlands, we saw a fox but no deer sadly. I also got serious garden envy!

Chillingham also has the only wild cattle in the UK, we went to see them as part of a secondary tour. It was certainly interesting and the cattle look interesting, smaller than a lot of other cattle. We heard bulls rutting and having fights up on the hill and saw some calves. The tours are only at set times on certain days. I loved the castle, the cattle tour was interesting but not as much as the castle!

We also went to Alnwick gardens, I love this place! It is the best gardens I have ever been too, and I love going to gardens! I think it was because the space was filled with interesting things, like the corridor of cherry blossom, which of course were still beautiful at this time of year, tulips and daffodils lined the paths and giant swings were dotted all over. The walled garden was incredible- walled gardens are the sexiest things in my humble opinion- the symmetry was just so eye catching. The way the trees were trained to espalier looked awesome and the water features, which again reflected the symmetry just felt so inspiring! There is a massive water feature right at the start which has fountain shows, and a corridor made of trees on either side. The serpent garden has the most amazing water features, and the bamboo maze is just fantastic! The rose garden was sadly not in bloom but still great, and the Poison garden was just fascinating!

The Castle at Alnwick is interesting, but a bit too perfect for me, I do like Castles to be falling down a little, or quirky ala Chillingham, though the views were stunning. We got to see a quidditch training session taking place!

We drove past Bambrough castle which was very picturesque and went along the coast for a drive, then on to Rothbury which is a sweet little town. We also went to Dobbies garden centre where I bought a Bonsai tree! So exciting!

The dogs stayed in kennels, this cost us just over £80, we payed for the Alnwick castle and gardens tickets in advance, this cost just over £50 with the online discount, airbnb cost us £150 for three nights, we have an economical car so that helps with carbon footprint and cost! It was £35.50 for Chillingham Castle and Cattle for both of us, which we paid when got there. In total we spent an extra £395 on the castle, fuel, eating out lots, and shopping! I am quite happy with this! I love a get away and we dont like to skimp, the room we had only had a small fridge and no cooking facilities, so great excuse to eat out and about!

Groupon, Wowcher etc

I have gotten some great deals using Groupon and Wowcher- I am sure there are other similar sites as well but these are the two I have used! If I want to go for afternoon tea, a Spa day or a day out locally, I will always check on these sites for any deals. This has definately lead to some great savings on something I would have done anyway. Most recently I got a great deal on a local festival I planned on going to, I got the VIP tickets for the same price as the normal entry fee, this got me lots of free items including rum and cake- perfect!

Though, not all deals are as good as they look- for items, furniture etc, they can be found for the same price or cheaper online on sites such as Amazon, so it is always worth shopping around before you buy.

I have used groupon for Las Vegas- I signed up with the hotel address of where we were staying. I got buy one get one free on yard length margaritas and unlimited alcoholic drinks on the Linq Hotel’s big wheel, the High Roller for a bargain cost for three people! So it often seems that local bargains, even abroad can be found.

I tried when we went to Paris, but it was in French- unsuprisingly really- so I wasn’t able to understand it at all!

We are off to New York next year, and one of the places we want to stay is often on Groupon so I will be doing the same again closer to the time!

These type of sites are also a great way to discover what awesome and interesting things are in an area, I learnt new things about where I live by looking through the deals, some great finds to be had- but be sensible, you dont save by buying something you dont want, or if you dont check that you are getting the best price!

Florida: Must do list

I am completely borrowing/utilising this idea from thriftygal over on http://thepowerofthrift.com who does a bucket list for her travel destinations! I absolutely love this idea! We are heading to Florida later this year and here is all the wonderful/trashy things I would love to do!

  • Go to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and the new waterpark Volcano Bay!
  • Go on a glass bottomed kayak, looking at all the beautiful wildlife Florida has to offer
  • Get over to NASA, have a good old mooch around and learn lots of new things about the Universe around us!
  • Eat at IHOP- have been to one in Vegas, phwoar, I fell in love!
  • Get a place named souvenir from Planet Hollywood- have glasses with Vegas, Edinburgh, London and Paris on so far, our little collectables!
  • Go to Universal Studios Horror Nights, this is a true dream! Am a bit of a horror geek!
  • If feasible on the timeline, go to Hollywood Studios
  • Play crazy golf! In Vegas I found a groupon for KISS crazy golf, it was so much fun!
  • Enjoy some American TV and find some amazing pizza!
  • Get on an airboat ride- in the Everglades if at all possible to see Alligators
  • See a real life Walmart

We are holidaying with my family so some of the most important to do’s, revolve around them!

  • Spend some quality time with the folks
  • Get quality time with my baby sister and her boyfriend
  • Spend time with my step brother, who I hardly see anymore and lovely Netty, who has holidayed with my folks for as long as I can remember, she is fabulous!
  • Enjoy all the new experiences with my hubby, I quite like the fella and making new memories is always amazing
  • Have an unbelievably good time!

Not all of these memory making lists are in anyway cost effective, frugal or bargainous, but they are so worth the money I believe! Hubby has never been to Florida, but he loved Vegas and is excited to go back to America, I have been to Florida, but not since I was a child, so I am so looking forward to this too! I may do a post about how I am trying to make smart choices and have some sort of budget for this holiday!

Thanks for reading 🙂