A day trip to Arundel, West Sussex

Last weekend I had to go all way down to Bognor Regis for work but this time Calum actually traveled with me so he ended up having a full Saturday to go exploring while I was working. When he met me after work he insisted that we go to Arundel where he spent the majority of his day. I genuinely had no idea what to expect but it turned out be pretty much a little fairytale town! There is a castle, a river, cobbled streets and plenty of fairy lights, basically all of my favourite things. Because it was already dark when we got there, I haven’t taken any pictures and to be honest it was so nice just to enjoy everything rather than trying to document things. We strolled around for about 20 min while looking for somewhere to have dinner.

I loved Arundel that much that I came back a few days later when I had a free morning. It was raining the entire time but that didn’t stop me from walking up to the castle and taking way too many photos as always. The town is truly charming and has tons of beautiful shops and cafes. I’ve also managed to squeeze a quick stop to enjoy a cup of peppermint tea before it was time to head back.

Arundel Guide - Too Many Plants Blog

Arundel Guide - Too Many Plants BlogArundel Guide - Too Many Plants BlogArundel Guide - Too Many Plants Blog

Arundel Guide - Too Many Plants BlogArundel Guide - Too Many Plants BlogArundel Guide - Too Many Plants BlogArundel Guide - Too Many Plants Blog

Here is my little guide to things to do in Arundel.

To eat

We had a fantastic pub dinner in the Swan Hotel but all pubs and restaurants looked absolutely amazing.

Arundel Guide - Too Many Plants BlogArundel Guide - Too Many Plants BlogI’ve went to Pappardelle on my second day but because I had a very hearty breakfast earlier I’ve ended up getting a cup of tea but cakes looked amazing in there. If you can, grab a seat next to the window and enjoy watching the world go by.

Arundel Guide - Too Many Plants BlogArundel Guide - Too Many Plants BlogArundel Guide - Too Many Plants Blog

To do

The main thing to do in Arundel is definitely to wander around and admire little streets, beautiful buildings and stunning shop windows. There are many antique and vintage shops, not necessarily my cup of tea but I loved looking at shop windows.

Arundel Guide - Too Many Plants Blog

Arundel Guide - Too Many Plants Blog

To visit

Sadly when I was there the Arundel castle was closed as it is only open during summer time. But I did visit the Cathedral which you can see when driving up to Arundel. The entry is free and it is stunning.

Arundel Guide - Too Many Plants BlogArundel Guide - Too Many Plants BlogArundel Guide - Too Many Plants BlogArundel Guide - Too Many Plants BlogArundel Guide - Too Many Plants Blog

There is also a museum but I didn’t have time to visit it this time.

A little extra

If you are driving to Arundel I can definitely recommend visiting the Edgcumbes roasters which is about 10min drive from Arundel. Calum discovered this place and insisted that I visit it too. If you like great coffee then it is worth a visit. Also great for getting presents for loved ones.

Arundel Guide - Too Many Plants BlogArundel Guide - Too Many Plants BlogArundel Guide - Too Many Plants BlogArundel Guide - Too Many Plants BlogArundel Guide - Too Many Plants Blog

I’ve been absolutely blown away by how picture perfect Arundel is. So if you are in the area – do pop in to spend a wonderful afternoon in a little fairytale.

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Arundel Guide - Too Many Plants Blog

Visiting the Glenfinnan viaduct and Monument, Scottish Highlands, Harry Potter locations

During our little Scottish getaway to Arisaig,  we managed to squeeze in a fair bit of little trips considering we only had two full days there.

On our first day we finally visited Glenfinnan viaduct (I say finally, because I’ve traveled over it in March 2015 but we didn’t stop to admire it for longer).

Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blog
March 2015 – views from the train
Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blog
March 2015 – views from the train
Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blog
March 2015 – views from the train

If you are wondering what is so special about this viaduct – well, it is where Hogwarts express scene was filmed. Pretty magical if you ask me! During warmer months, there is a steam train operating, which is definitely on my bucket list. Also Loch Shiel has been used numerous times throughout the films as the backdrop for Hogwarts.

Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blog

Glenfinnan Viaduct

As expected this place became increasingly popular in the last decade. We were there in early November (arguably not the best time to visit Scottish highlands) but there were a few coaches parked up and we even had to wait for our turn to take photos. There is a handy viewing platform bit just a few minutes walk from the car park – you do have to walk up the hill and I would imagine during wet weather it could be slightly challenging, so I would advice appropriate footwear. There are also a few hiking tracks that you can take, sadly we were limited on time so couldn’t spent a few hours wandering around looking for the best shots – maybe next time.

Nevertheless, it is a great place to stop and admire the scenery, especially because there is a very handy car park just off the main road.

Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants BlogGlenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants BlogGlenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blog

Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blogd5981b9e-2a5e-4684-9d78-5c883f26ddbf

Glenfinnan Monument

Next stop was the Glenfinnan Monument, which is a striking tribute to those who fought in the Jacobite Risings. You can actually climb the monument, which costs £3.50 or free if you are a member of National Trust for Scotland. There is a narrow spiral staircase that leads all way to the top, it is very snug up there, so maybe not the best place if you are not comfortable with confined spaces. However the views from the top are pretty spectacular, definitely worth the climb.

Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blog

Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blog

Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blog

Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blog

Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blog

Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blog

Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blog

 

Visitors Centre & Cafe

Not going to lie, we haven’t actually went to the visitors center, apart from going to the cafe, which was amazing! Cakes were fantastic. But there is an exhibition which explains more about the monument and historical importance of the place.

Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blog

Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blog

Dragonfly trail

On the way back to the car park, we noticed a little wooden walkway snaking into the marshes, which turned out to be a bit of a scenic route called Dragonfly trail. The whole walk takes around 40 min to complete and again is very enjoyable. We saw a few of remaining Scots pines too, which became almost extinct everywhere else in UK due to being used for building ships.

Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants BlogGlenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blog

Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blog

Overall Glenfinnan is a fantastic stop while traveling around Scottish highlands, also I would strongly recommend getting a train from Fort William to Mallaig if you ever get a chance, the views are insane!

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Glenfinnan, Harry Potter locations - Too Many Plants Blog

Day 8 (Snæfellsnes peninsula) – Our Ring Road trip around Iceland in a camper van

Day 8: Kirkjufell – Ólafsvík – Lóndrangar – Arnarstapi – Reykjavik

Kind of hard to believe that I am finally at the end of our adventure. I mean there is still a day in Reykjavik to go but Day 8 is the day when we finally drove our last kilometers in Iceland. On the last day we decided to drive around Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

I know I said it last time but by this point we were pretty tired and felt like ‘we’ve seen it all’, which, I am fully aware, is pretty embarrassing considering we were in one of the most beautiful places in the world, nevertheless that explains why there were barely any photos taken (and we actually looked at one of the most spectacular waterfalls on the Snæfellsnes peninsula from the car and didn’t even bother walking up to it…). In our defence, we filmed a bit while driving and Calum is still in the process of putting a little movie together. I will share it here when it’s done.

Kirkjufell

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is situated in the western part of Iceland and been called ‘Iceland in miniature’ because many national sights can be found in the area. Our first stop was famous Kirkjufell mountain. Famous because it was featured in Games of Thrones, but it is absolutely spectacular and definitely a worthy stop.

Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

Ólafsvík

After driving for a bit we stopped at Ólafsvík which is a small town in Iceland. We walked around for a bit, there is a really cool church and a waterfall but our highlight was the bakery! Icelandic pastries are something truly special – some of them are huge (I mean, bigger than my face and I have a big face). Sadly we didn’t take any photos, but trust me – they were great.

Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

Lóndrangar

Our next stop was completely random, as we only pulled over because we saw a few tourists in a distance. That was a great decision as we ended up visiting Lóndrangar rock formations, which surprise – surprise was insane!

Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

Arnarstapi

And just like that Arnarstapi was our last stop on our epic road trip! Arnarstapi is a very picturesque village and it is very touristy, so there are a few hotels, camping grounds and restaurants. We had hot chocolates and a side of chips (french fries) – first chips in over a week, in a lovely cafe right in the middle of the village and wondered around for a bit admiring yet more cliffs and mainly enjoying beautiful weather.

Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

On our drive back to Reykjavik we stopped to wash the camper (which was free at a petrol station!! and surprisingly fun) and arrived at our Airbnb around 5pm to have probably the best shower ever. Our lava camper got picked up at 6pm which actually was a bit emotional, we both ended up loving our little home, but that officially marked the end of our epic adventure.

We spent another 24 hours in Reykjavik before flying back to London, but I will tell you more about it in a bit.

Breakdown of our Icelandic road trip day by day:

Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7

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Too Many Plants Blog - Epic Road Trip in Iceland

 

Things to do in Arisaig, Scottish Highlands

At the beginning of November I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Scottish highlands. We did a few walks and spent an afternoon wondering around Arisaig.

Arisaig

Sometimes I desperately need to be out in nature. Don’t take me wrong, I love London and it is nice to be coming back, but occasionally I get this incredibly strong urge to be outside.

I love the sea but I would always choose moody autumnal sea rather then the one on a hot and sunny summers day. I love mountains, I like being high and being able to see for miles and miles ahead. And my favourite colour has always been green, since I was a small child.

So it came as no surprise when our trip to Iceland ended up being an absolute dream come true but it also made me realise how grateful I am to be living in a country where there are mountains and sea. I lived in Scotland for 6 years a few years ago now, but I happily take any opportunity I get to go back! Even if that means to travel for 12 hours one way, just to be able to spend 60 hours there.

This time we travelled all way to Arisaig, this was my 2nd time there but we have managed to squeeze a few things while being there.

 

Arisaig

Arisaig

My highlights from visiting Arisaig

Baywater pub

The only pub in the village and it is lovely. They have a great selection of whiskies, a lovely fire place, occasionally there is a band playing too. Baywater pub has a hotel next door which I can imagine would be a great place to stay considering the views and atmosphere are brilliant.

Cafe Rhu

Lovely cafe which serves sandwiches, main meals and cakes during lunch and turns into a bit of a restaurant at night. We didn’t eat there this time, but we got lunch there a few years ago and it was great. Great baked potato!

Arisaig

Arisaig

Arisaig

Arisaig Marine and pier

I love boats, there isn’t a great reason why, they just fascinate me. So I am always intrigued by marinas and piers and the one in Arisaig is lovely. You can walk all way down to the water and the views from there are great.

Arisaig

Arisaig

Arisaig

Too Many Plants Blog - Arisaig

Larachmhor garden

Definitely a bit of a hidden gem, as the gardens are a 15min walk from Arisaig and are hiding on the side of the road, but definitely worth a visit.

The gardens originated as an orchard and kitchen gardens in the 19th century but in 1927 wealthy Glaswegian John Augustus Holmes used the land to cultivate his impressive collection of exotic plants especially Rhododendrons. I believe now gardens are looked after by students from Scottish universities. I was there in the beginning of November and there was an explosion of colour – photos probably speak for themselves.

Too Many Plants Blog - Arisaig

Too Many Plants Blog - Arisaig

Too Many Plants Blog - Arisaig

Too Many Plants Blog - Arisaig

Too Many Plants Blog - Arisaig

Too Many Plants Blog - Arisaig

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Too Many Plants Blog - Arisaig

Too Many Plants Blog - Arisaig

Too Many Plants Blog - Arisaig

Too Many Plants Blog - Arisaig

Camusdarach Beach

There are quite few beaches close to Arisaig and all are pretty amazing. This time we went to Camusdarach Beach, which has some stunning views on neighboring islands of Eigg and Rum; and became famous after being featured in a movie Local Hero.

Too Many Plants Blog - Arisaig

Too Many Plants Blog - Arisaig

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It is always fantastic to go back to Scotland, and every visit leaves, plotting a plan on how can I go back.

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Arisaig

Day 7 (West Fjords) – Our Ring Road trip around Iceland in a camper van

Day 7: Reykjafjardarlaug Hot Pool – Garðar BA 64 shipwreck – Látrabjarg Bird cliffs – The Minjasafn Egils Ólafssonar Museum – Rauðisandur Beach – Laugar Saelingsda

Our last day on West Fjords we were planning to drive to the most western point in Iceland, and of course we had a few stops planned on the way – Garðar BA 64 shipwreck, Látrabjarg Bird cliffs and Rauðisandur Beach. As you can imagine we were pretty tired by this point as we have spent the last week driving around Iceland, so the amount of stops and photos decreased dramatically by this point.

Reykjafjardarlaug Hot Pool

The weather was brilliant the entire day and we started the day by visiting yet another heated pool/hot pot – Reykjafjardarlaug Hot Pool – this one was my absolute favourite!! We arrived before 9am and we were the only people there for a while. Water was just perfect for swimming. This is a communal pool which I’m guessing someone looks after as the changing rooms were great! There are also little natural hot pots nearby but there were a bit too warm for us, but I can imagine in winter they would be perfect for a little soak. There is an honesty box for donations where we left some money as this place was great.

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Garðar BA 64 shipwreck

After driving for a few hours we stopped to switch and also visit an abandoned steel shipwreck Garðar BA 64. Apparently this is the very first steel ship in Iceland built in 1912 and now it has been left on a beach as a monument to islands whaling traditions. Definitely a good stop to stretch legs and take a few photos.

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Látrabjarg Bird cliffs

Our main stop on the 7th day was the bird cliffs/the most western part in Iceland. The drive there was crazy! Calum drove the whole way there and back as I was too scared…it is a pretty much one way road that snakes around Fjords and hangs over cliffs and huge drops.

Aside from the drive, Látrabjarg bird cliffs are fantastic! Being the westernmost point of Iceland (and arguably Europe) it is the main tourist attraction in West Fjords, it is really a line of several cliffs, 14 kilometres long and up to 441 m high. Because foxes can’t reach it, birds are safe and pretty much fearless, which means great photos, as you can really get close to them. Of course puffins steal the show! I think photos talk for themselves – but it is safe to say that Bird Cliffs are one of our brightest memories from Iceland.

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The Minjasafn Egils Ólafssonar Museum

As we had to drive for quite a while, we stopped at the Minjasafn Egils Ólafssonar Museum and enjoyed an apple cake with some coffee. Definitely a worthwhile stop!

West Fjords

Rauðisandur Beach

This was our next stop and a lunch break. The sand in this beach is meant to be changing its colour depending on the weather conditions, going from white to red, and shining like thousands of diamonds. Being completely honest, we were a little bit disappointed by this…but hear me out. Rauðisandur reminded us so much of Western Scotland! But I can see how some people absolutely love it. We strolled around for a bit, made soup for lunch and enjoyed the sunshine before our log drive back to the mainland Iceland.

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Laugar Saelingsda

Our last stop was actually the campsite. Being reasonably close to Reykjavik now, we couldn’t find any remote stops so chose a campsite next to the Hotel Edda Laugar in Saelingsdal. There is a huge hotel and a lovely campsite, with brilliant facilities. I’m glad we stayed somewhere nice for our last night in a camper van. The area actually holds a great historical value and is surrounded by a lot of legends.

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And just like that it was our last day driving around Iceland…one more post to come!

See all previous ones:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

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A morning in Brighton – things to do when you don’t have a lot of time

My latest work project was in Shoreham – a little suburb West of Brighton. Unfortunately due to the project being very intense and the fact that it gets dark so early now, I only had a few hours on Thursday morning to venture out to central Brighton.
I’ve been there many times before but being a massive fan of anything water related, I’m always keen to enjoy some seaside.



Weather was pretty terrible – cold and drizzly, but I actually quite liked it, it was so moody and great light for taking photos (important things in life).

Food

My morning started with a brilliant omelette and sun-dried tomato bagel and a flat white from Bagelman. But there are million and one fantastic cafes in Brighton, so finding somewhere to eat will never be a problem.

Brighton lanes

Anyone who has been to Brighton will agree that strolling around Brighton Lanes is an absolute must! There is so much character and many fun shops. Also make sure to pop in to Choccywoccydoodah – the craziest chocolate shop I’ve ever seen!


I still haven’t made it inside the Brighton Pavilion, but always enjoy walking past it and admiring intricate architecture.

Brighton pier

And of course, no visit to Brighton is complete without visiting Brighton Pier. It has everything that you can expect on a pier – rides, cafes, pubs, arcades and shops. I was there when it just opened at 11am so I got the pier pretty much to myself!



Getting there

This time I had a car with me so ended up parking it at one of NCP car parks, however I strongly recommend getting a train to Brighton, car parks are incredibly expensive and Brighton is not the easiest city to drive around (let’s pretend that I have worked out how to use the clutch in my new work car and I didn’t stall it around 100 times while driving around hilly Brighton).

Brighton is one of the best cities for a day break – especially if you live in London, the train takes just over an hour.