Greensnips Farm B&B, Summerhill, Milwich, Staffordshire, ST18 OEL
What: 3 Night Short break, working from a comfy, spotless B&B, and seeing family for lunches and dinner (in a socially distanced way) | When: August 2020 | Time: 3 Nights | Who: on my own | Costs: £200 (large room with a beautiful ensuite, sleeps 2), including continental breakfast.
So I was really missing family and once we were allowed to do some (limited) travelling I decided to go and visit but was keen to minimise the COVID risk by not spending time indoors with them or sleeping over. I also wanted to work during the day from my laptop.
Greensnips Farm, is a stunning B&B 20 mins drive from my family and set in the most gorgeous countryside. I needed somewhere with Wifi so I could work, and near enough to have lunch with my family. "Have lunch with my family" sounds so weird after such a long time, and it was such an amazing treat.
The stay started well and just got better. Andy and Steve are great hosts, and I felt at home straight away. I was welcome to use the (stunning) lounge with huge squishy sofas, as well as the kitchen (useful as I worked into the early evening and then popped upstairs to heat up my M&S meal - I clearly know how to live.) I even managed to fit in some walking and cycling which was a real bonus and so good for the soul.
I'd really recommend this type of break - find a spotlessly clean home from home like this, work overlooking fields with some pretty cute sheep looking up at you, and then take a long lunch in a garden with your precious family.
Tel: 01889 505364
3 go mad on a P&O Cruise - Malta, Italy, France. A great relaxing week, lots of fun and hairpin bends
What: Cruise, sun, sand, sea, cocktails, stunning sunsets, great food... | When: May 2019 | Time: 7 Nights | Who: 3 sisters | Costs: Inside cabin Oceana £620 per person (sleeps 4-6), including return flights Gatwick. All inclusive (food).
So this year we did our first cruise. The three sisters decided to ignore the possibility of sea-sickness and book a P&O Cruise in the Mediterranean.
Here we have a big shout out for Iglu Cruises 020 3811 7347, who took my late evening call and advised me on where to go and what cabin to choose to minimise a) my seasickness and b) the walk to the lifts. Our cruise started and finished in Malta, and we visited Rome, Florence, Monaco and Corsica. We opted to stay on board for Rome and Florence (transfers to the main cities being too long for us) and what a good decision. The ship was pretty empty and we lay in the sun drinking and eating all day (apart from our daily trips to the gym – yes it did happen!).
We free-styled Monaco, opting out of the organised trip and going for local buses (lovely driver, accommodating my bad French-with-an-irish-accent). Once there we saw my sister’s dream – the Grand Prix circuit, and promptly attempted the steep hill with a hairpin bend, “driving” a wheelchair, with few cocktails to spur us on. What fun.
This trip worked out really well giving everyone great independence, including those that wanted to get up at 5am and head up onto deck for a coffee and a chat with the lovely P&O staff on duty. Next time we’d like a window or balcony ideally, but honestly, this was a truly fun trip (as always with my lovely sisters) and we’re now looking for the next.
Fantastic days out: Monaco/Corsica/Rome/Florence
3 go mad in Sicily - Cefalu, Residence Fontana Barone
Pepe says 10% off if you mention LEAFY
What: sun, sand, sea, boat trips, volcanoes, stunning backdrops, Italian food... | When: Mid Sept 2018 | Time: 7 Nights | Who: 3 sisters | Costs: Residence Fontana Barone £650 (sleeps 4-6), £130 return flights Gatwick to Palermo, £150 car hire
This trip had a lot to live up to. My lovely 2 sisters and I went to Corfu in 2016, Crete in 2017 and it was now Sicily's turn to experience the 3 Musketeers. The accommodation was a surprise - we hit the "confirm booking" button after a tiny bit of Prosecco, so this could have gone horribly wrong. How lucky were we? Pepe and Yvonne couldn't do enough to make our stay "like home" (erm, with sunshine, and pool...). The apartment was extremely comfortable with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, living room and an outside cooking area leading down to the pool. Brilliant.
Fantastic days out: Salina/Panarea/Stromboli boat trip, drive up to Castelbuono, Cefalu old town & beach.
Tel Pepe on: +39921931224
3 go mad in Crete - Trefon Apartments, Platanes
What: sun, sand, sea, boat trips, bed and yummy breakfast (inc), restaurants walking distance | When: 29th Sept 2017 | Time: 7 Nights | Who: 3 sisters | Costs: Trefon Apartments £524 (sleeps 4), £130 return flights Gatwick to Heraklion, £130 car hire
Crete was next on our list. Not sure why, but I had been previously and had walked the Samaria Gorge (not this time though, too much wine and food to be able to commit to that undertaking).
The accommodation was great for us as we had access to a lovely pool and could walk to restaurants – so no driving for me in the evenings (you can see where I am going). I did have a dodgy back at the time but the locals didn’t seem to mind that I did what was left of my 10k steps round and round the pool while taking sips of my “sex on the beach”.
There was a wonderful family feeling at Trefon Apartments, and it was great that breakfast was included. Lovely memories of beating playing my sister at Backgammon (well each year one sister who is the expert, reminds the other 2 of us how to play and the nightly events are brutal, fun but brutal).
Fantastic days out: Segway Tours (what fun) at Rethymno, Museum at Heraklion, Kalypso Dive Centre at Plakias for snorkelling and scuba diving.
3 go mad in Corfu - Friend's Apartment, Pelekas
What: sun, sand, sea, boat trips with locals (skinny-dipping - the local, not us), amazinge green countryside and beautiful beaches, self catering (so huge doughnuts for dinner) | When: Mid Sept 2016 | Time: 7 Nights | Who: 3 sisters | Costs: £150 return flights Stansted to Corfu, £100 car hire
So this trip kicked of a series of “3 go mad in..” trips, as it was such a great break and it was brilliant to go away with 2 of my lovely sisters. We’d thought about it previously but accommodation is a little tricky for 3 adults. However, as this was a freebie, with 3 single beds, it was perfect. Better than perfect. We tried scuba diving, a boat ride with two local lads (why not), and hired a canoe in Paleokastritsa where we also took a short but stunning boat trip in to see the caves. Car hire was easy, though the driving was interesting and the 56 point turn on a mountain road with a sheer drop was a little challenging…we lived to tell the tale and we do, often.
Fantastic days out: Paleokastritsa, Acharavi (diving), Pelekas beach, drive up to the top of the cliff at Pelekas for sunset drinks.
Dive Easy at Acharavi: Very nice instructor and I could snorkel while the 2 bonkers sisters tried scuba diving (my main thought was “what would Mum say if I didn’t bring them back…”).
Yoga in Bordeaux
Short breaks for friends
What: relaxation, yoga, & incredible home-cooked menu | When: May 2018 | Time: 7 Nights | Who: 7 girlfriends | Costs: £700 without flights to Bordeaux
This was an amazing break. The gorgeous Chez Brown bed and breakfast offered us evening meals and lunches when we happened to be at the accommodation at that time. We had 2 hours yoga per day (optional) or alternatively you could drink wine by the pool. Lindsay and Noel were brilliant hosts and the house itself is beautiful.
Plenty of lovely walks and bike rides, and markets and historic towns all nearby. 1 hour from Bordeaux airport, and pickups can be arranged.
firstname.lastname@example.org | Website: Chez brown
24 hours in Rome - Pasta making and Texan hugs
Short breaks for friends
What: city break, sightseeing, cookery class| When: Nov 2017 | Time: 1 Night | Who: just me, meeting 2 friends | Costs: £150 without flights to Rome
So Linda and I play scrabble on line and, after a 2 year sister-bonding-type internet friendship she told me she was coming to Europe - to Rome. I had 24 hours to spend with her and her lovely husband Ed, so I thought "why not?". We stayed at the Hotel Barocco - nice and central, walking distance to many of the famous sights. Hotel transfers £45 approx or take the train.
We booked a pasta making course together at Alfredo Alla Scrofa (1 hour, followed by an amazing dinner), and had a fantastic time getting to know each other, catching up on books we'd read, our kids adventures, and our holidays. I also got an update on Mr Blanchard, the lovely Texan policeman who reassuringly reported an awful hurricane that hit Texas, as I watched the update videos from London. Lovely. Lots of wine and laughter.
So glad I went, and so happy to realise that online friendships can be genuine.
Activity: Pasta making at Alfredo Alla Scrofa