Trains to Europe, is it for you?

Some people think getting a train to the South of France is madness, I mean – a quick hop on a plane (such fun!) and you’re sunning yourself on the French Riviera – right? While that might be true for some people, it’s not everyone’s first choice. Below I will list some of advantages and disadvantages to train travel.

One evening in 2014 we were talking about where we would like to go on holiday that year, to be honest we were probably arguing about it. Mike likely wanted to go somewhere cold and I wanted to go somewhere hot, it’s almost definite I uttered that ever-irritating sentence “but it’s not a holiday if it’s not hot!” Which is pretty weird given I’m more pale than Edward Cullen and every time it gets above 26 degrees I stomp about complaining “it’s too HOT!” I don’t remember how it came about, but I do remember it was in the middle of the night, but we decided it would be fun to go to France on train, not just the Eurostar but the TGV (high speed train) down to Nice.

So we did, and we had a fab holiday in the French sunshine. Skip forward to 2017 and my opinions on holidays have changed – I love holidaying in our wonderful country, I love the varying countryside and the fact you can probably still get a copy of the Radio Times and a bar of Cadbury’s! I’ve also been a bit unlucky with holidays in the last few years – in 2015 we had a beautiful week in the Dominican Republic and I reckon we got a bit cocky. A trans-Europe trip where we flew into Salzburg, trained it to Budapest and then flew back? Of course, got it on lockdown. Until I got food poisoning that very first day. That’s one to forget… then there was last year, the lost trip to America. So I was a bit nervous about going abroad again. Planes have always made me feel a bit ill and that coupled with different foods and temperatures didn’t sound that appealing. Plus to be honest I find being abroad pretty stressful, the heat – the fact I can’t understand anything other than basic words – the traveling on transport systems you’re not used to (water buses ffs!) but there is a lot of value to mixing with other cultures and getting out of your comfort zone so I decided I’d ease myself back into foreign travel going somewhere I’d been before, and that avoided the planes. Below is a little run down of the pros and cons of train travel, specifically to the South of France, hopefully it will help anyone who is considering it – there were a lot of Brits on our trains so it’s obviously quite a popular method despite the fact I don’t know anyone else who has done it! The pros and cons are based on our individual circumstances and do require you to love within travel distance of London.


  • Location – our local airport is Stansted (31 miles) and the Eurostar goes from St Pancras (67 miles). Surely this is a con? No! St Pancras is easily accessible for anyone with a train station nearby, it’s only a short hop from our ‘home’ London station of Liverpool Street whereas Stansted is a nightmare; no train links, no bus links, we would have needed a lift, using the train we can get from our door in England to our door in France without inconveniencing anyone else. When you arrive in Nice you are in the city centre, no faffing around on the edge of a city trying to make it to your accommodation from the airport.
  • Luggage – there are no restrictions on luggage weight, so if you can carry it – you can take it! We had three suitcases, a rucksack and a handbag, easy enough to handle and meaning we didn’t have to worry about that bottle of Chinzano for Auntie Gertie pushing us over the limit! Oh, and no worrying about your bags getting ‘lost in the system’!
  • Hand luggage – on a similar theme, you are not restricted on what you can take in hand luggage, so you can take through your bottle of water, lotions and potions – no plastic bags in site!
  • No planes – this is only a pro for some people but for a nervous flyer it’s invaluable!
  • The view – the view from a plane is great when you take off, and when you land, but let’s face it most of the time it’s cloud and after you’ve seen one cloud they all start to look a bit samey! Watching the French fields roll by is lovely but the real treat comes when you get to the coast. A lot of the train tracks are just above the beaches, watching places like Cannes and Antibes roll past is a something that’s hard to describe.
  • The time – you only have to check in 30 minutes before your train from London. Of course you must go through security and ‘check in’ but it’s very speedy and you’re only waiting long enough to have a quick browse round the WH Smiths before you’re on the train. Long gone are the days of turning up to the airport three hours before your flight!
  • Stretching your legs – anyone that’s been on a  long flight, or road trip knows it’s very boring sitting for ages but not aboard the TGV – you can get up and have a wander (and nose at other people). There is a massive catering coach which had seats along each edge you can gaze out while you drink your impossibly small espresso.
  • Stay connected – this is only partly true and wifi connectivity is still being rolled our on Eurostar trains and is only available on a small about of TGV routes at the moment but it’s coming!

The cons

  • The time – I know I used it as a plus above but obviously taking a train is slower than a plane. The average journey time from London Stansted to Nice is 2 hours, the train is more like 9 hours. However, when you factor waiting times at the airport, the border control fiasco and collecting your luggage, the difference is more like 2 1/2 hours. So if speed if your number one consideration, this isn’t the method for you.
  • The cost – some people mistakenly think that train travel is cheaper, because it’s not as quick and it’s less ‘exciting’ but that’s not true. Train tickets for two adults to and from London will cost around £300, I found flights with luggage for around £220. But of course this will depend on how far in advance you book your flight and at what time of year you are travelling, we are slap bang in the middle of the summer holidays so undoubtedly paying a premium.


It’s certainly not for everyone but if you are after an adventure I’d definitely recommend traveling to the South of France by train. Nice is the end of the line (though you could change trains and continue on to Monaco, or even Italy) so bear in mind other destinations will be much quicker – you can now even take a direct Eurostar from London to Marseille – getting you there in just under 6 1/2 hours! If you have any specific questions about London – Nice train travel feel free to drop me a message using my contact page.



My top 5 things to do in North Yorkshire

Obviously this is just my take on things, from a week in North Yorkshire. If you have anything else you’d like to add please comment below or message me on Instagram.

1. Climb Rosebery Topping

Roseberry Topping is an distinctive looking hill (many compare it to the Matterhorn in Switzerland) near Newton-under-Roseberry and Great Ayton. But don’t worry, unlike the Matterhorn it’s only 320 meters high and can be climbed in under an hour. It’s steep and tough going in places but easy enough for anyone of average ability, including dogs!

There are a couple of paths you can take and all are well marked. There is parking at the foot of the hill in Newton-under-Roseberry and free toilets. There was a load of free on road parking when we visited but I suspect this might not be available now we are in the school Summer holidays!

2. Visit Goathland

Goathland is perhaps better known as Aidensfield, home of Heartbeat.  I used to love Heartbeat, turns out pretty much everyone else I’ve mentioned it to did not and finds the fact I liked it hilarious!

Anyway, Goathland is nowadays a busy hub of tourism with Heartbeat memorabilia everywhere but long before it hit our screens people came to visit Mallyan Spout, the tallest waterfall in the North York Moors. It’s a fairly easy walk down the river and a slightly more difficult ‘climb’ to the waterfall itself over boulders and rocks, but as long as you’ve good sensible shoes on you will be fine. It’s such a treat when you get there, one family was even having a picnic by it with cans of FOSTERS! 

Outside the otherside of the village you will find the train station. Harry Potter fans might recognise this as Hogsmeade Station which services Hogwarts. I’m not Harry Potter fan but the station itself is really magical and you feel as though you have stepped back in time. We waited until the North Yorkshire Moors Railway steam trains came through, that just added to the atmosphere. This little village has everything you could need for a lovely afternoon including a pub, shops and a carpark which offers all day tickets (meaning you can share with other people who come and go at the same time as you!)

3. Swim in Thomason Foss

If you’ve read my previous blog post about our trip to the Lake District over Easter you will know that we gave wild swimming a go and we were keen to do so again in the Moors. Online we found information on Thomason Foss, a difficult to find waterfall in the village of Beck Hole.

We parked just up the hill past the pub  and basically scrambled down the side of the hill, then following the river to the waterfall. This is not an easy walk (and I fell down a flipping rabbit hole!) but there is a path which we couldn’t see on the way down. If you look on street view there is a tree with a green sign on it, that is where the path is – I wouldn’t recommend just going down the side as you might end up like me!

Ooooh it was cold! Kudos to Mike as he got in and had a proper swim while I paddled in the shallow bit and complained about the temperature. It is really remote here and we had the waterfall to ourselves, the perfect place for a picnic (if you can carry it!) Don’t be too alarmed if you hear a loud rumbling it’s just the train.. though I must admit I was a bit worried some rocks would go a tumbling!

4. Have a Fentiman’s in the Falling Foss tea garden

So I know this sounds like another waterfall, but it’s not, well it’s sort of not. Falling Foss tea garden is nestled in enchanting woodland, just 6 miles from Whitby. I found this place as it was so highly regarded on TripAdvisor but I wasn’t expecting what I found. You order at a little wooden shack in the middle of the garden, dotted around are picnic benches and there is even a little play area for children. Choose a seat near the waterfall for a truly fairytale experience.

We had tuna mayo sandwiches, and gluten free bread was available – WHOOP – it was the best gluten-free bread I’ve had to date too – tasted just like ‘normal’ ciabatta. They also have a wide array of Fentiman’s so I tried the rose lemonade that’s been doing the rounds for years and it was delicious. I had stupidly assumed it was just a pretty drink but it’s actually really tasty! They do host weddings and parties here so you may want to check they are open just in case.

Oh and make sure you visit the loo, I won’t ruin it but it’s definitely a loo with a view!


5. Have an ice-cream in Staithes

Don’t get me wrong, Whitby is a lovely little town and Robin Hood’s Bay is nice too but my favourite was Staithes.

Wander down the steep street from the main car park (and stare open mouthed at the delivery drivers who seem to be navigating it with ease) and you will arrive at the pretty little beach.

Unspoilt and majestic the beach is sheltered by imposing cliffs. You will find little at the bottom of the hill, some shops, pubs and an ice cream seller or two.

There are lots of beaches to rest your legs and stare out onto the horizon – it’s somewhere to clear your mind.

A little extra…

We visited a lot of places on our trip so I will just put some photos below, incase any take your fancy – just hover over a pic to see the location.




Lake District

When we first started talking about our Easter holiday this year I thought we were going to end up going to Snowdonia. Me being me however we left booking a little late and I couldn’t find anything I liked that was available over the Easter weekend. Anyone that followed me on Instagram in February time may remember the weekend I seemingly looked at every single self-catered cottage in the whole country! We had talked about the Lake District before and I stumbled upon a gem of a place which happened to be free.

The house we stayed in was Kirkbank, a converted Chapel in the small village of Eskdale in the Western Lake District. The house stood out as it was very high tech with a boiling water tap, grand piano and… an outside bath. Eskdale is very remote and perhaps not everyone’s choice but it was lovely for us – plus pretty much everywhere in the Lakes is a good drive away anyway!

The first thing that strikes you as an Easterner when you arrive in the Lakes is how overwhelmingly beautiful the scenery is. I am a massive advocate of stunning Suffolk but its beauty is rather more subtle than the dramatic fells and massive bodies of water you will find in Cumbria. There were sheep everywhere and some of the roads were more than a little scary those of a nervous disposition bring an extra pair of pants. You can also drive miles and miles and not see any sign of civilisation. I am used to being ‘remote’ having grown up on a farm in a small village but this was something else. The terrain means you can’t drive as the crow flies and the narrow roads can be tricky for those of us not used to it, but after a few days you feel like a local.

When you’ve driven 6 hours all you want to do is flop on the sofa and you’d have no problems here – just stick on the underfloor heating – or light the fire if you feeling brave – make a cuppa with the Quooker tap and have a little nap. That’s what I would have done… but then I saw the bath – I have a bit of a thing for them but the one in the main bathroom had a TV so I didn’t even miss Corrie. But that’s enough about the house, you can find out all you need to on the link.


As I’ve said the Lake District is massive and even places that look close on the map turn out to be hours apart but we managed to cover some serious ground. One of our favourite things was Stanley Ghyll Force, a short drive or longer walk from Eskdale. My main must haves from a holiday are views and nice walks and this had both. It’s hard to show in this photo but this is taken from up high after a semi-challenging walk up. The moisture from the falls cools you down! It’s not something I’ve seen before and you truly feel like you’ve stumbled into a different country. The walk starts from the Dalegarth station car park, on the Ravenglass and Eskdale railway, which is well worth a visit even if you don’t use the train (ratty) itself. We had planned to try out the ratty but it’s a not a particularly cost effective mode of transport, though I’m sure kids would love it!

19619681_10154641785865770_789802177_oThe other thing I really enjoyed on this holiday was wild swimming. You know when people say ‘all the gear and no idea’ well that was us, dressed up in wetsuits, those little water shoes and everything. The wild swimming pool is called Tongue Pot, it has crystal clear waters and is like something out of Game of Thrones. But I tell you what, it was bloody freezing, it was a warm and sunny April day and I knew it would be cold but I was expecting Walton-on-the-Naze cold not carving ice in Antarctica cold. I have a lot of respect for Mike, he managed to get in and make a good go of it while I stood around screaming, there was a little bit of swimming though I promise. The foot path comes right over the top of the pool though and we must have heard ‘you’re brave!’ about 20 times but sitting there sipping steaming tea from our flask while watching Mike swim under a waterfall I couldn’t have been happier. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the Lakes, it’s worth making a trip for and is regarded as one of the best places for wild swimming in the the Lake District.

Those were my two must-dos but we also:

  • Hired a boat on Windermere – a bit touristy but for £33 for an hour you can’t really go wrong, plus as hiring a boat on holiday seems to have become our ‘thing’ it needed to be done. I did get beeped by a cruiser!
  • Keswick and Derwent Water. Keswick is a beautiful little town and Booths is worth a visit in itself!
  • Wastwater. A beautiful lesser known lake, very near to Eskdale and the deepest of all the Lakes. Probably my favourite as it’s so peaceful, the perfect place for a a quiet picnic – even in the school holidays!
  • Walking up Muncaster Fell, I would say the view was great but we couldn’t see anything (picture below!)
  • Haverring Beach
  • Kendal

So all in all if you are looking for a peaceful and scenic holiday but also are a confident driver who doesn’t mind spending time in the car if you want to venture further afield then the Lakes is definitely for you.

Below are a selection of photos from our trip, I hope they convey a small of slice of our the natural beauty of the Lakes.


2017 – the year of exploration

Hello everyone,

I would say I hope you are enjoying the Summer but frankly we seem to have slipped into mid-October so maybe I will skip that for now.

You may have read my very first post ‘2016’ but if not I will quickly paraphrase. Last year was a tough one for me, probably the toughest I’ve had to date, mainly because I was in a lot of pain, a lot of the time. Due to that I (and by extension my husband) missed out on a lot – it’s all in the first post but we cancelled a holiday to America, tickets to Coldplay, in general anything fun!

Skip forward to now I am feeling much better and much happier but it does take a lot of work and self control (hello massive croissant which I would really like to eat but now can’t!) As last year was a bit of a damp squib adventure-wise I was really intent to make 2017 much, much better through doing more, seeing more and exploring more. I am lucky to live in a beautiful part of the country where there is no shortage of new places to be discovered.

I started a list at the start of 2017 with activities I wanted to do this year – nothing major, things like visiting the most Easterly point in the UK, seeing the bluebells carpet the ground and visiting local places of interest. Half way through the year and we are doing pretty well and have some lovely times – lamb cuddling in the Spring and wild swimming in the Lakes are particular highlights.

So I may have got a little carried away with the breaks. So far we have been to the Lakes (and 24 hours in South Wales, but I don’t think it counts if you are there to watch football – but we did see Stacey’s house!) also have a week in North Yorkshire and Nice booked and weekends/long weekends in Norfolk (camping), the Cotswolds, Hayling Island and Bath. I will be be documenting our stays on here and my Instagram. As the Lakes has already happened I will pop a post up tomorrow, it was the place of the OUTSIDE BATH and attracted a lot of attention at the time so I hope you will enjoy it.

If you have any recommendations for breaks, or if you own a holiday cottage/rental please get in touch.

Below are a couple of pictures from our year so far, hope you enjoy them and maybe I’ve inspired you to write yourself a 2018 list, the trick is small achievable activities, plus who doesn’t like crossing things off a list?