Monday, 7 August 2017

Next Destination... Parga, Greece

Greece is a country that I would revisit again and again - and I have, 
to many of their mesmerising islands. 

 
I know that the high opinion I have for this destination is not only due to its breathtaking surroundings, but the kind Greek residents, and not forgetting, the incredibly delicious food on offer.
 

All about my holiday to the Greek town of Parga.
 
It has been almost three years since I last journeyed over to Greece, mainly because our family are running out of new places to go to over there. However, in 2016 I came across a superb deal (I am regularly on the hunt for discounted holidays) flying out May this year to the small town of Parga, which is located on the north-western coast of Greece.
 
Normally the average flight duration is around 3-4 hours via plane, which I can just about cope with sitting through. The transfer from the airport to and from the place that we stayed in was pleasant too, at around 50 minutes.
 
All about my holiday to the Greek town of Parga. My parents and I booked into Zozefina Apartments & Studios for our seven-night stay.
I was shocked to find out upon our return that this accommodation had just a 2-star rating and I definitely think it deserved an extra star for all that was provided. A cleaner came every day to our studio room that was furnished with two single beds, plus a sofa bed, (guess, who ended up with that?!) a bathroom, plus a kitchenette. Appliances such as a hairdryer were also included, as was a satellite television and free Wi-Fi. 
 
A swimming pool and tables with seating were available downstairs from our room as well.
The only area I feel that could be improved on was to the food service when ordering from the snacks and drinks menu. The wait time was longer than expected and there wasn't much choice to select from, just your standard burgers and chips, omelettes etc.
 
We were in a brilliant spot for seeing things, being a five-minute walk from a line of restaurants and twenty from the stunning harbour.
 
All about my holiday to the Greek town of Parga.All about my holiday to the Greek town of Parga.
 
Although we ate back at our apartments on more than one occasion, when we did eat out we headed straight for Yannis Taverna. They provide an impressive menu of homemade authentic Greek dishes that kept tempting us back to try more of their glorious (and affordable) food. 
 
The meatballs, stifado (a Greek dish of stewed meat with onions) and the vegetarian moussaka were the trio of dishes that I tested out over three nights and all of them tasted extraordinary. Most of the meals can be ordered with a side of oven potatoes, chips, salad, or rice, which is an option that I particularly valued. Their Greek salad (with the must-have feta cheese) was another thing to rave about, and so was the mixed grill (for two people), according to my parents. 
 
 Last off, the staff of this family-run business were so friendly and would give you a complimentary shot of Ouzo (an alcoholic drink popular in Greece and Cyprus) or a coffee to finish off with if you wanted to after dining in their eatery.
 
All about my holiday to the Greek town of Parga.

Each day we were out walking and stopped at different points to appreciate the clear sky, unbelievably blue water, beautiful flowers and a whole lot more, all in the satisfying heat that was in the high twenties.

You could book excursions with Thomas Cook for outings that lasted for either half or the full day.
My mum and dad had a good experience out to somewhere much further away, which meant a 7:30am pick-up for them and a return time of 7:30pm.
 
    Together we booked a train journey costing eight Euro per person.
This two-hour trip consisted of a tour of Ali Pasha castle and to take a look at the local waterfalls.
 Visiting the waterfalls nearby for twenty minutes was meant to be included on the second half, however when we stopped off at Anthousa Village that this is positioned in we were told that there was not enough time as it was too far away. As avid walkers though, we opted to travel by foot there and then back to our starting point - completely ditching the return journey in the train. Funnily enough, the waterfalls actually turned out to be a short stroll directly down the road.
 
All about my holiday to the Greek town of Parga.

Up from the harbour is also where you could wander around the ruins of another castle, the Venetian Castle of Parga. As this is quite a tourist attraction there was a restaurant on site where visitors could have refreshments after the steep walk up to its grounds. 

Overall, the town of Parga was another highly enjoyable getaway (plus another Greek destination crossed off of our list!) It will appeal to couples and families who relish a holiday to a part of the world that is picturesque, reasonably priced and somewhere that time for some relaxation and things to do are both on the agenda.

What part of Greece ticks all of the right boxes for you?
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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

15 Ideas of Delightful Things to do Come Summer Time

Even though the colder part of the year gives me a very good excuse to pull out my snuggly pyjamas, I'd much rather wake up to a bright, sunny morning over a typical dark winter one. 


I would most definitely like to socialise more and fill my days with exciting plans, but especially when the weather is nice.

Nevertheless, I can remember having many fun experiences, which I have listed some of below, along with a few others (most of them are free!) that I would like to include in my diary come summer time...

15 ideas of delightful things to do come summer time.
Full credit goes to the original designer of the 'Hello Sunshine' print. 

  • Visiting the seaside and having a short paddle in the water.
  • Delving into a McFlurry ice-cream or a Mr Whippy cornet (don't forget the sauce topping please!)
  • Reading a magazine from cover to cover in the garden.
  • Admiring pretty flowers as they begin to bloom.
  • Making up a picnic for a lunch park outing.
  • Taking crusts of bread along to feed the ducks with at a nearby river.
  • Bringing out the art supplies to engage in some drawing or colouring.
  • Listening to a favourite album whilst taking in the surrounding areas.
  • Testing the mind with book puzzles.
  • Paying a trip to see numerous animals at the zoo.
  • Attending a live music event held outside.
  • Going for a long walk in the countryside.
  • Preparing a colourful fresh salad or fruit dessert to eat sitting at the garden table.
  • Hitting the shops to replace or add to a clothing and shoe collection.
  • Finding coolness for a couple of hours by booking tickets to a cinema screening.

What do you have planned come summer time?
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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

I've Got My Ticket... Sister Act - The Musical

Music, comedy and drama - the 1992 film Sister Act truly did have it all.

 

I'd previously seen this memorable moving picture live as a show on stage in London's West End many years ago now and remember having nothing but good things to say about it. Therefore, I felt that it would be completely unnecessary to question before seeing it again whether the current musical version touring around the UK would triumph like it did back then or not.

 

I would soon have my answer after attending.

 

Everything you need to know about Sister Act the musical. 
Show Name: Sister Act - The Musical
Venue: The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Performance Dates: Mon 26th June – Saturday 1st July 2017
Starring: Alexandra Burke, Karen Mann, Aaron Lee Lambert, Joe Vetch, Alice Stokoe, Susannah Van Den Berg, Liz Kitchen
 Directed and Choreographed by: Craig Revel Horwood

Brief Information:
Never would anyone have predicted what was about to happen in the life of the sassy Deloris Van Cartier, who was played by Whoopi Goldberg in the original film. Shortly, the singer would be in a huge amount of danger after witnessing a cold-blooded murder taking place right in front of her eyes.

With nowhere else to run and hide away to for total safety the police have only one option for her - taking up residence in a convent. There this bold personality would live under a new identity as a nun beside other sisters, obeying to the strict rules that they are all used to. Obviously, for someone who likes to express her opinions Deloris struggles with these, which does not bode well with Mother Superior (originally played by Maggie Smith), the female in charge of this particular religious community.

However, It isn't long until Deloris does get to use her voice for a more productive cause when she begins teaching her fellow nuns how to sing. Not only does this newcomer transform the once godawful choir and build strong friendships, but she learns a few worthwhile lessons about herself along the way too.

My Opinion:

With directing and choreography matters being left in the very capable hands of the BBC's 'Strictly Come Dancing' judge, Craig Revel Horwood, I really did have high hopes for this being an enjoyable production. As the winner of 'The X Factor' in 2008, Alexandra Burke was another famous name that I thought was perfect for the cast line-up, taking on the lead role of Deloris.

Aside from Deloris, there are some incredibly likeable personalities in the film and I was left wondering how other actors would portray these on stage. I needn't have been concerned though, as the entire cast shined brightly throughout.

Each of the songs had such meaningful lyrics and fitted brilliantly with what was being acted out in the particular scene that they were matched with, as did each of the instruments that were cleverly played for a lot of the two-hour + running time.

There was no ignoring the amount of glitz that was also presented to the audience either. Whether it was the fancy hairdo's, sparkly outfits or the vibrant stage layout, the whole auditorium was full of groovy inclusions.

What did you like?
I knew from watching the ITV talent contest and being present at two of her concerts that Alexandra owned an extremely powerful vocal range and could handle difficult dance routines, but it wasn't known to me the standard of her acting skills. It turns out that she really does have the whole package, proving herself as a class act throughout every performance. 

    Alexandra was definitely not the only sign of entertainment. Along with some comical dance moves from the male genders of the cast, those playing the nuns also had both the crowd and I laughing out loud when they began to gain confidence and strut their stuff. This musical even managed to successfully include some humour into more serious acted parts, which isn't often done without error.

    Along with an unexpected romance, I was surprised when I was close to tears (happy ones!) watching some of the scenes between Deloris (AKA Sister Mary Clarence) and Mother Superior. This partnership was pure excellence.

    What would you change?
    All of the songs featured were written for the musical. Each track performed was utterly impressive, but I couldn't help missing ‘I Will Follow Him’ – the final song sung in the film. Other than that, Sister Act - The Musical deserves nothing but praise. Plus, I have had the new tunes of 'Take Me to Heaven' and 'Fabulous, Baby!' stuck in my head ever since.
     
    My star rating out of five:


    Find out more about Sister Act - The Musical, including ticket prices and performance times:
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    Thursday, 4 May 2017

    My Straightforward Guide for Entering Competitions

    Entering competitions is something that I have been doing for many years now and what I would actually consider as a being a hobby of mine.


    As the saying goes - 'You've got to be in it to win it', so bear that in mind if you feel like there is absolutely no point or your thinking ' I never win anything'.


    If the giveaway is free to enter, which most online draws are, then exactly what have you got to lose?
    - Nothing! I tell you.

    My must-do's to stand a better chance of winning when entering competitions.
     
    First up, I'd like to produce the evidence (and just to clarify, we are not about to crack some kind of 'Sherlock' case) that you can be the winning entry picked from thousands with my bullet-point list of some of the prizes that I have won in the past:
    • Hand signed Justin Bieber CD album.
    • 'Maximum Pop' Christmas bundle containing film and book merchandise.
    • Selena Gomez concert tickets (pictured).
    • The Last Song film advertisement poster (the massive ones that you see in the cinema foyers).
    • Olly Murs CD album.
    • Miley Cyrus concert tickets.
    • Once Upon a Time (previously aired on Channel 5, now its Netflix) series 1 DVD, notepad and kindle case.
    • Autographed Union J Christmas card. 
    • Diversity concert tickets + meet and greet with group photo opportunity and autographed photo (pictured).
    • Monte Carlo film memorabilia. 
    • Usher concert tickets (pictured).
    • 'Tyrrells Poshcorn' (popcorn bags in various flavours - x1 pictured).
    • Rio 2 film merchandise. 
    • 'Higgidy' lunch bag and food (letter pictured).
    • Britney Spears concert tickets.
    • The Saturdays t-shirt + hand signed 'Nintendogs' DS game.
    • Miranda, The Inbetweeners + Micky Flanagan DVD box sets (letter pictured).
    • 'Burt's Bees' cosmetics bundle (letter pictured).
    • £40 Amazon voucher.
    • 'Canon' Camera (received through sending in a celebrity snap to a magazine that they chose to publish).
    • Disney Channel's Shake It Up meet and greet with photo opportunity (pictured) and goody bag.
    • Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie merchandise.
    • Hand signed Craig David promo CD (pictured).
    • Numerous fictional books (x1 pictured).
    • 'Chewits' sweets packet selection. 
    • The Paul O'Grady Show nodding 'Olga' (pictured).
    • Harry Potter colouring books.
    • McFly concert tickets + meet and greet with photo and autograph opportunities:
      I wrote a letter on why I should win and sent over a drawing that I had sketched of the drummer, Harry.

      I would like to clearly state that all of the above has been won over approximately the past five years and was not obtained through my blog in any way.

      There will, of course, be moments of disappointment when missing out, but hey, think of how great you'll feel when you do get that winning notification!
    I lost out on getting myself a pair of tickets to watch boy band, The Wanted, live in concert from the golden zone. This was a slightly embarrassing situation as it was through a local radio station and I was live on air. The answer to the question I was asked wasn't general knowledge and you just had to guess, which did make me feel a teeny bit better for not getting it right.

    Now, onto what I believe are useful in knowing when entering competitions...

    Online:
    Via Twitter and Facebook -
    1.) Make sure that you have followed, retweeted and 'liked' the page to make your entry count, as almost all brands have this as a requirement for their giveaways.
    2.) Increase your chances by leaving a comment on the competition post.
    3.) Read the instructions, rules and terms and conditions (if any), such as only one entry per household, otherwise you could be disqualified.
    Plus, numbers 2 and 3 are also useful to remember when entering competitions on other websites that are not on social media.

    Post:
    Through the Mail -
    1.) Use bright postcards or eye-catching designs to write your contact details and answer (if compulsory) on that will stand out from other postal entries.
    2.) Have a set of stamps put by, so that you can get your entry sent ASAP.
    3.) Look that the address you are sending to has been written down correctly (the same goes for when sending emails).
    4.) Check the closing date to make sure that your entry will get to the destination before it shuts.
    5.) Write neatly.

    Radio:
    Live on-Air -
    1.) Save the stations phone number before the draw opens so that it will be easier to hit redial.
    2.) Find out if there is a charge as you don't want to be met with a gigantic bill.
    3.) Stay away from the active radio when on the phone as it has been known to interfere with the line.
    4.) You will obviously be mega excited if you get through to speak to the presenter(s), but remember, talk clearly and avoid any background noise.

    Text:
    Through Mobile -
    1.) Again, find out about any unknown costs.
    2.) A lot of the time you can only enter once, so don't do multiple entries.
    3.) Be aware of what details you need to include in the message and re-read before pressing send.
    4.) Listen / look out for a closing date and time.

    Well, there you have it! 
    Follow this advice and you never know what spectacular prize you could secure.

    Best of luck! 
     
    No matter if it was big or small, what have you won?
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    Monday, 10 April 2017

    What I Learnt From... Getting Through Life's Challenges - Part Two

    Taking up from where I left off in my other 'Getting Through Life's Challenges' post some months back, I've put together an additional five tips that I stick to in order to get the most out of my waking hours.

     

    The follow-up to what I learnt from getting through life's challenges.
    Full credit goes to the framed images original designer.

    1.) Socialising.
    Phone, text, email, write a letter, there are so many ways to keep in contact with the people you that you want to, no matter what their location. I try not to leave it more than a week without chatting to two of my dearest friends, who are now in their seventies. A conversation with them puts my mind at rest from knowing that they are okay. Usually, I will also scroll through my mobile looking at who I might not of heard from for some time, which will then prompt me to send over a text or Internet message so that person is aware that I am thinking of them.

    2.) Keep Active.
    Okay, so I understand if there is an absolute downpour of rain outside that the last thing you would want to do is leave the dry comfort you are currently in, but this doesn't mean that you have to be a couch potato for the entire day. If you own a games console like a Wii, pick up the remote and get your body moving along to the feel-good variety of tracks to choose from on 'Just Dance', for example. It is so much fun - especially with your best bud! An exercise DVD, the use of a hula-hoop or skipping are other examples of fitness that can be accomplished indoors.

    3.) Write It Down.
    Trust me when I say that bottling it up will only make things worse. There will come a point, like when a bottle of fizz is shaken up, that it will all come pouring out. Scribble what has upset or agitated you onto a piece of paper, or better still, talk to someone about it, even if it is a specialist. Let the heavy pile of sand you've been carrying in your shoes for quite some time just crumble away, like when it gets wet on the beach and is then flattened by the sea.

    4.) Distance Yourself from Negativity.
    If hearing about crime stories in the news unsettles you, switch the TV channel over, turn down the radio's volume, or skip those articles in the newspaper. On the other hand, when it's a friend who has the tendency to unleash their worries on you, kindly let them know how it affects your mood. Maybe agree to give them five minutes to inform you of their worries and then change the subject. You could do the same, but make it clear that you shouldn't be doing this on every interaction that you have with them. Soon after, you will hopefully see a difference and find that you are speaking less about those bothering things.

    5.) Do What You Love.
    Magic tricks, acting, space fanatic? Whatever you like spending your free time doing, carry on. As long as you enjoy it and it's not hurting anyone or yourself physically, you shouldn't feel the need to stop. If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you will very well know that I have a passion for the British band, McFly. When I was in my teens at school I got teased a fair bit for being a fan, but not listening to their music would've caused unnecessary misery for me, so I continued to do so.

    Let me know if you do any of these listed already, or what has worked for you?
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