No, you’re not going crazy…

It’s currently 2am and I am in the midst of an anxiety meltdown. It’s times like this where I lay awake for hours searching my issues in the internet, desperately trying to seek validation or for someone to tell me everything will be okay.

For those who don’t know what anxiety is or question if they have it or are just going crazy, the best way I can explain it is an all consuming fear that can grip you at any moment. Your thoughts may be completely irrational to someone else, but to you those thoughts flood your every waking moment to the point you wonder if you truly are going insane.

I’ve been an anxious person for a long time. I don’t know the exact cause but I know I was a quietly anxious child. By quietly I mean I would hide my anxieties as these originated as a form of empathy for others, part of that was keeping my emotions are secret so I wouldn’t worry anyone else. As a child I believe these anxieties amassed themselves into bouts of misophonia, the hatred of certain sounds. ‘Misophonia is a disorder in which certain sounds trigger emotional or physiological responses that some might perceive as unreasonable given the circumstance. Those who have misophonia might describe it as when a sound “drives you crazy.” Their reactions can range from anger and annoyance to panic and the need to flee.’

I never recognised this anger (usually the sound of people eating) was caused by anxiety, until I became an adult and I realised that when I was happiest, I could tolerate being in the same room as someone who was eating, and when I was at my most anxious, I would pull my hair out and scream at the smallest of crunches. For years my anxieties improved, until I began a job in which a lot of things could go wrong. Being a travel consultant was always my dream, and for the first three months I adored it, I woke up excited to go to work. Then a new member of the team joined who was a narcissist and a compulsive liar, he also loved to make me feel like crap. It was as if every waking moment of his working life he would want to put me down, belittle me and call me out on issues that could happen to anyone. He started contacting me on my days off and in the evenings, telling me I was in trouble, that I had made a mistake at work and there would be repercussions the next day. He would force me to call clients to apologise, he would tell me my customers were coming in to see me as they were unhappy with me. The thing is, it was all a lie… I specifically remember one night being so riddled with worry I didn’t sleep a wink. I had made a small error on a booking that was easily fixable and this colleague told me I had ruined his day, that he spent all day fixing my problems and I would have to spend the next day doing all his work to make up for it. He also told me the customer would be coming in to speak to me and he was ‘very unhappy’, I remember crying in the toilets that morning dreading going to my desk. Yet when the client arrived and I was fully braced to have him scream in my face, he produced a box of chocolates, thanking me for arranging his holiday and he was excited to go. There was no anger, my colleague made it all up, he then proceeded to take the box of chocolates away from me and said he deserved them more.

This led to the worst anxiety of my life. I used to get the train to work but had to stop and drive instead because every morning I would imagine throwing myself in front of the train. I couldn’t do that to my parents or the train driver, but it was a recurring thought. Work became hell, having to sit and listen to his lies, listen to him badmouth me to customers and colleagues when in reality, I was picking up his own slack where he was outright rude to customers and refused to do the work. I ended up quitting with no work to go to, I knew I had to put my mental health before work so I did, and it paid off.

The last few years (I quit almost four years ago) have been a rollercoaster. Whilst the anxiety eased, it was always there, laying dormant like a volcano, ready to be triggered at any moment. Even four years later there are times I want to call up the CEO of the company and scream at him down the phone , ‘how could you let this happen to one of your employees?!’. In fact, it wasn’t one, it was a whole team, we all ended up leaving.

I kept myself busy the last few years with travel and new job opportunities. A new marriage, watching my nieces and nephews grow, spending time with family and also making new friends. All that kept me sane, then I got a dog…

Let me start of by saying I don’t regret getting a dog, in fact, he is my pride and joy, my whole world. But the issue is I now seem to worry about Baxter, all day, and all night. He is so precious to me that I live in a constant state of paranoia that something might go wrong, that he might be sad, be hungry, be anxious, be sick, all of the above. The reason why I’m awake right now is because my dog began crying just after 1am. My body is in tune with him the way a mother is in tune with her new born baby. He could make the quietest of whimpers and my mind is suddenly on full alert.

Baxter has always been a good sleeper, since the day we got him he has slept through the night. However, he has a grain intolerance and a sensitive tummy. There have been a handful of occasions when he has needed to poop in the night, and he has cried out for someone to let him outside, and that’s what happened tonight. So why am I awake over an hour later? Because even though I let him outside to do his business and he trotted back with a wagging tail, I am creating a whole host of scenarios in my head of why he needed the toilet in the night. Has he eaten something he’s allergic to? Is he sick? Has he got a blockage? Does he have anxiety? What is wrong with him?! Deep down I know he’s a dog, and just needed to poop, just like humans do sometimes, but the worry is uncontrollable.

The reason I’m writing this is to hopefully help at least one person who feels what I feel, and if they are up at 2 o’clock in the morning Googling whether they’re crazy or not, they will find this article, and know that they are not alone. The worst part is trying to explain yourself to someone who doesn’t understand and they tell you ‘worrying won’t fix anything’. Yep, that’s the last thing we want to hear, if we come to you with our worries, hold us and tell us you’re here for us, that’s what we need, to feel safe and secure.

Amazing Holiday Homes in Cornwall

The Signal Station

An iconic maritime home situated atop the cliffs of world-famous Lizard Peninsula, the Signal Station is the most southerly coastal self-catering home in England. The former signal house was built in 1872 by Fox and Company shipping agents, it was to become as a communication hub for passing ships using flag signalling to direct passing ships whilst communicating with London via telegraph!

Sleeping up to six guests, the property boasts a beautiful dining room with fitted seating around the bay window, giving visitors stunning views south over the Atlantic whilst they enjoy their meals. Whoever is lucky enough to stay in the fourth bedroom can make the most of the adjoining roof terrace, offering 360-degree views of the surrounding coast and countryside.

This home offers all modern extras such as yoga mats, a Smart TV with iPlayer and Netflix, iPad, WiFi internet, built-in charcoal barbecue, scented candles, local produce, luxury linen and towels, not to forget a beautiful Cornish welcome hamper complete with a cream tea!

From £1,995 per week, £1,395 per short break, bookings can be made via Unique Homestays here.

Pebbleline

This cosy stone beach house sits atop a cliff, just a hop, skip and a jump away from a large sandy beach boastings views over Whitsand Bay and the Rame Peninsula. With plenty of privacy, Pebbleline House is located in a beautiful area close to the picturesque fishing village of Polperro.

Guests can enjoy their own outdoor Jacuzzi, Games/ TV room with darts, pool & table football, WIFI, Sky TV, fully-equipped kitchen, terrace, BBQ and sweeping sea views. Those travelling with babies and\or children can relax knowing there are babysitters on call, a chef, and even maid service. The large sandy beach means the kids can let off some steam and for rainy days the children can make the most of the X box or Play Station.

From £1,758 for a long weekend, bookings can be made via Olivers Travels here.

Slipway

Located in one of Cornwall’s most sort after areas, the Slipway in St Ives is a large apartment with a private balcony overlooking Porthmeor’s Blue Flag beach. Beautifully furnished and with a sea view, the airy apartment offers laidback luxury with an atmosphere that encourages guests to slow down, breathe and relax.

Guests can enjoy an excellent location within the town and are able to walk to restaurants, shops and the seafront. The apartment sleeps 6 guests in 3 en suite bedrooms, it also offers private parking and WIFI, no pets allowed.

From £999 per week, bookings can be made via Cornish Secrets here.

Serpentine

Built in a natural curve that follows the cliff edge at the western tip of Whitsand Bay on the south coast of Cornwall, Serpentine is an opulent self-catering beach house that offers freedom and escapism. Located close to the sleepy fishing village of Periwinkle, the property boasts a state of the art interior with a glass exterior that offers guests the chance to soak up some of the UK’s finest nature.

The home sleeps up to 8 guests across a double bedroom master suite with king bed, a link bedroom which can be set up as a king-size double or a twin and two more double bedrooms with en suite bathrooms.

From £2,395 per week, £1,695 per short break, bookings can be made via Unique Homestays here.

The Roundhouse

Make the most of a slower pace of life at The Roundhouse, a beautiful wooden retreat located on a luxurious glamping ground just a short drive from the North Cornwall Coast. A porthole in the roof means couples can stargaze before sleeping amongst little hints of luxury.

An outdoor kitchen cabin makes dining al fresco fun and easy and the en suite bathroom means no sharing a bathroom with other campers! The cabin boasts a handmade king-size bed with underfloor heating and a cosy wood-burning stove so couples can relax as much or as little as they want.

From £259 for a weekend, bookings can be made via Luxury Coastal here.

Damselfly

Cornwall may be famous for its stunning coastline, but why not incorporate the countryside in your stay too? Located on a riverbank on Bodmin Moor, Damselfly is for the wild at heart and those looking for the kind of peace only nature can provide. This is so much more than a woodland cabin, sleeping just 2 guests, Damselfly is the ultimate romantic treat for loved up couples or those looking to reconnect.

Guests can enjoy a double bedroom with a comfy king-size bed, a cosy bathroom with a free-standing bath and separate shower, and a kitchen with gas hob, electric oven, dishwasher and Nespresso machine. Curl up in bed on rainy evenings and make the most of the Smart TV with Netflix and Amazon Prime. Sunny days call for a BBQ on the Weber Kettle charcoal barbecue with logs and kindling to get you going.

From £850 per week, £650 per short break, bookings can be made via Unique Homestays here.

Please note this article was written by myself and is no way affiliated with any of the accommodation booking sites listed.

 

Dog-Friendly Hotels in the Cotswolds

Nothing comes between a man and his dog and luckily for us, the UK recognises that. The Cotswolds is the perfect place for dog lovers, rolling green hills, beautiful views, cosy pubs and a lot of dog-friendly hotels!

Lygon Arms, Broadway

The Lygon Arms is one of the most well-known properties in the whole of the Cotswolds thanks to its celebrity guest list and tip-top service, but did you know you can take your dog along with you too?

The hotel once hosted King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell so a lot of history comes with it, its multi-million-pound refurbishment has made sure to enhance all its quirky characteristics rather than hide so guests can expect to see roaring open fires, a dining room that would rival Hogwarts and beautiful exposed beam ceilings.

Pet beds will magically appear in your room on arrival and of course, treats are provided too.  Your pup can join you for meals in the Lygon Bar or the Lygon lounges where there are some gorgeous spots for your pooch to curl up and go to sleep. A muddy paws station is located in the courtyard so you can wash your dog down after a long country walk.

Prices start at £195 per night, click here to book.

The Manor House Hotel, Castle Combe

Located in the heart of England’s prettiest village, the Manor House Hotel in Castle Combe boasts 365 acres of parkland for your four-legged pal to trot around in, your dog will even be offered his/her very own goodie bag.

Doggys are not allowed in the main hotel restaurant but guests are welcome to bring them along to the Castle Inn, the estate’s very own pub offering morning coffee through to delicious dinners.

The Manor House is a 14th Century luxury hotel and golf club with beautifully indulgent suites where no two are the same, guests have the option of choosing their own pillow from a menu, including a comforting pregnancy pillow for expectant mothers!

Prices start at £300 per night, click here to book.

The Fish, nr Broadway

Located in the heart of the countryside, the Fish hotel is a haven for dogs and their owners. Small and medium-sized dogs over one year are welcome in a number of dog-friendly rooms with wooden floors and easy car access. At just £30 per dog per stay, pet pooches can indulge in some delicious treats before retiring to a cosy dog bed, they will even be treated to their own towel so you don’t need to worry about messing up yours!

Dogs are unable to join you in the hotel restaurant but can sit with you in the relaxing bar and lounge where you can enjoy dishes from the bar menu. Much to every dog’s delight, the Fish boasts its own agility course and doggy afternoon tea is also available for £19.50 per pooch.

There are a number of quirky rooms spread out, including 5 Hilly Huts and 3 Treehouses (dog friendly) nestled into the woodland and 5 new Hideaway Huts.

Prices start at £180 per night, click here to book.

Killingworth Castle, nr Woodstock

Located on the edge of the Cotswolds close to the town of Woodstock, the Killingworth Castle is the perfect place to settle down for the night after a day exploring Blenheim Palace. At just £10 per dog, the Killingworth offers the best value package for bringing your pooch along, and with that, he can make the use of his own basket, blankets & bowl along and of course some scrummy treats.

This old coaching inn dates back to the 17th century and laid derelict for over a year before Jim and Claire Alexander rescued it and refurbished the property in 2012, creating an ultra-cosy English home from home with award-winning food and a popular pub.

Prices start at £119 per night, click here to book.

The Wheatsheaf Inn, Northleach

Nowhere have I felt more welcome with my naughty little puppy than at The Wheatsheaf Inn, where staff spotted the signs of a brewing meltdown in me whilst I tried to control my 5 month old excitable cocker spaniel from jumping on the restaurant table.

The 17th-century coaching inn boasts a central position in the Cotswolds in the bustling village of Northleach. Dogs are welcomed with their very own goody bag whilst you will be greeted with a glass of chilled champagne and thanks to the gorgeous smelling dog shampoo you are offered, your pet pooch will end the day smelling better than ever!

Dogs are happily invited into the bar, the restaurant and can trot around the gardens, late checkout at 1pm means you can take pupster out in for a morning walk and not have to worry about racing back.

Prices start at £88 per night, click here to book.

Widbrook Grange, nr Bradford on Avon

Housed in a grade II listed Georgian farmhouse and surrounded by 11 acres of gardens, Widbrook Grange is the ideal place to stay for those visiting the picturesque town of Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire. At just £15 per night, pets are allowed in the suites, classic double rooms and family rooms. A comfy doggy bed is provided as well as a selection of tasty treats!

Whilst pups aren’t allowed in the main restaurant, guests have the option of dining in the conservatory with their furry companions. You can also enjoy a doggy afternoon tea which is served daily between 12-5pm at £10.50 per pooch. This includes a tennis ball to take home, choice of Lily’s Kitchen wet food, organic dog biscuits and a puppichino.

Prices start at £113 per night, click here to book.

Horse and Groom, nr Moreton in Marsh

Just minutes from the honey-coloured town of Moreton in Marsh, the Horse and Groom in Bourton on the Hill is a friendly Georgian hotel with a typical country vibe. With just seven bedrooms, guests can expect the utmost service and four of these rooms are pet friendly.

All fluffy guests are provided with beds and bowls and are more than welcome to race around the hotel gardens if they want to!

Prices start at £99 per night, click here to book.

Best Boutique Hotels in London for a Weekend Getaway

Georgian House Hotel

A hotel for Harry Potter lovers, the Georgian House Hotel is a bucket list destination for many fans of this famous movie franchise. Make sleeping at Hogwarts become an almost reality at the Georgian House’s in their Hogwarts-style dorm room.

You don’t have to be Harry Potter crazy to enjoy this hidden gem in Pimlico, the individually designed rooms appeal to most and is just a stone’s throw from Victoria Coach Station so comes in handy for those looking to experience some day trips outside of London.

Weekend prices start at £102 per night, click here to book.

Charlotte Street Hotel

This 52 guestroom hotel is a beautiful venue for a weekend break in London. Charlotte Street Hotel is just minutes from Soho Square, making it ideal to explore London on foot. Guest bedrooms have been designed and furnished in a typically English style and the availability of interconnecting rooms make it an excellent option for family escapes.

Guest areas include a stunning wood-panelled library, its own brasserie, cinema room and a gym!

Weekend prices start at £355 per night, click here to book.

Henrietta Hotel

The perfect boutique hotel located in the heart of Covent Garden, the 18 guest rooms at the Henrietta Hotel were inspired by Covent Garden’s rich history with a nod to Italian design.

Housed inside two Victorian terraced houses, bedrooms boast handmade Art Deco headboards whilst throughout the hotel, you will find hues of forest green and pinks. On the top floor, big spenders can experience the Grand Henrietta suite, complete with a two-person balcony and partial views of the London Eye.

On the first floor, guests can find a French-inspired restaurant in collaboration with chef Ollie Dabbous.

Weekend prices start at £298 per night, click here to book.

Artist Residence

The Artist Residence is a 10-bedroom retreat in Pimlico and a welcomed vision to all Instagrammers!

Filled with contemporary art, warm hospitality and a carefully curated shabby chic style, the Artist Residence is the third property in this up and coming chain and well placed for those wanting to explore the finer parts of London – including the shops of Sloane Square,  the Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea Physic Gardens, Buckingham Palace, Battersea Park and Tate Britain.

Weekend prices start at £260 per night, click here to book.

Zetter Townhouse

The smaller the number of bedrooms, the more focus staff the staff can offer their guests, and with just 13 guestrooms, the Zetter Townhouse is not lacking in excellent service.

Located in the heart of Clerkenwell, the property feels more like the private residence of an eccentric Great Aunt than it does a popular city hotel. For those who want to bring along the whole family, the townhouse can be hired on an exclusive basis.

Weekend prices start at £285 per night, click here to book.

Blakes Hotel

Marketed as London’s first 5* boutique hotel we couldn’t leave out Blakes Hotel, a fine living property opened in the 1970s. Its exclusive location in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Blakes offers a sophisticated allure and service of the highest level.

The hotel was designed by former Bond girl Anouska Hempel, creating a stunning fusion of eastern and western styles. Guests have access to the nearby South Kensington Club but in-room spa treatments are available on request.

Weekend prices start at £271 per night, click here to book.

The Curtain

East London is a brilliant spot if you like a more alternative scene, hipsters, street art and all the avocado on toast you could dream of, Shoreditch has become a small hub and genuinely offers a lot of great restaurants and activities.

The Curtain is home to 120 guestrooms so a little bigger than the other hotels on this list but still offers a boutique vibe. There is a rooftop pool and lounge, 24-hour gym, treatment rooms, co-working space and 6,000 square feet of event space, with a ballroom, screening room and more.

Warehouse living is on the agenda here which is exactly what people want from the area and The Curtain has hit the nail on the head with exposed brickwork and hardwood floors making you feel as though you could be 3,500 miles away in Manhattan.

Weekend prices start at £259 per night, click here to book.

Bingham Riverhouse

Have you ever wanted to visit London but not have to put up with the hustle and bustle on a daily basis? Richmond in south-west London offers much more of a village vibe with great links into the centre (15 minutes to Waterloo Station), sweeping riverside views and easy access to attractions such as Kew Gardens, Ham House and Hampton Court.

The Bingham Riverhouse is a luxury hotel and restaurant with 15 bedrooms that encompass calm, comfort and modern craftsmanship to offer a home from home stay. The interior is completed by droplet chandeliers, Farrow & Ball paint and bespoke art deco-inspired furniture, creating one of the trendiest stays south of the river.

Weekend prices start at £116 per night, click here to book.

10 Fairytale French Villages

After discovering the village where Belle lives in Beauty and the Beast was a film set and not an actual place, I was left pretty disappointed. But worry not, these picturesque villages in France will fulfil all your fairytale wants!

Conques

Located in the Aveyron department, the charming village of Conques is perched above a river gorge surrounded by mountains and forests. The original town walls survive in the centre of the town, closing in the cobbled streets and medieval housing, 3000 people lived here in the 13th century!


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Eguisheim

Situated on a wine trail, there are many good reasons to add Eguisheim on your bucket list. This pretty Alsace village is close to the French/German border and is built with streets arranged in concentric circles all around its castle. Visitors can lose themselves in narrow streets lined with colourful half timbered houses before sitting down for a bite to eat in the central square, complete with majestic fountain and Saint-Léon-IX chapel.


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Najac

A beautiful village surrounded by green forests, you would be forgiven if you thought Najac was just a painting in a Disney movie, but I’m pleased to say this place really does exist!

Boasting a 14th century fountain, plenty of ancient housing and of course a once royal castle, Najac is set along a ridge above a bend in the Aveyron River where you can enjoy swimming and canoeing.


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Annecy

Built right on the shores of Europe’s cleanest lake, the small town of Annecy is an explosion of colour and charm. Walking around the old town is a delightful experience before taking a boat trip on Lac d’Annecy.


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Locronan

It might not be brimming in multicoloured buildings but that doesn’t make Locronan in Brittany any less spectacular. Nestled in the Breton countryside, the village is exceptionally handsome and offers views across the verdant landscape all the way to the sea!

 


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Colmar

Even more colourful than nearby Strasbourg, Colmar in Alsace is one of the most beautiful towns in Europe. Cobblestone streets run between half timbered houses and the canal, with each house blooming in floral delight in summer, then becoming a Christmas wonderland in winter!


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Turenne

Boasting a rich Medieval past, the village of Turenne is officially listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Built around an elegant castle the village lays bear remarkable evidences of its historic background.


Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Occupying a very enviable corner of Provence, Saint-Paul-De-Vence looks like it’s been plucked straight out of a storybook. Set above the surrounding landscape, the village is the perfect getaway for a romantic weekend.


Mont-Saint-Michel

Mont Saint Michel is no secret in the UK, situated in the England Channel just off the north coast of France, most British school kids will have visited on a school trip. On the border of Brittany and Normandy, Mont Saint Michel is sometimes an island and sometimes connected to the mainland, dependent on the tide. At the top of the island sits and ancient monastery, making this a site of pilgrimage for many centuries.


Montrésor

The Loire Valley is famous for its historic French chateaus and the village of Montrésor is no different. Revolving around the Château de Montrésor, the village has a real air of magic about it.


5 Incredible Castles For Sale in the UK

Thanks to our violent past, the UK has plenty of castles dotted around the landscape, so many that we have almost become immune to them. However, to actually live in a castle is a completely different kettle of fish, but it is possible! Below are some beautiful castles that you can move into straight away!

Earlshall Castle, Fife

Where better to find a castle than Scotland? Once home to over 2000 castles! With 10 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms and 8 reception rooms, it’s not hard to avoid the family at Earlshall Castle, and every kid will be able to play their dream game of hide and seek here!

The 16th-century property was beautifully restored by Sir Robert Lorimer and even hosts a magnificent listed walled garden. 34 acres of land surround the property, including its beautiful gardens, woodland and parkland grazing.

The earlier part of the castle was built in 1546 by Sir William Bruce and Mary Queen of Scots arrived in 1651.

Price on application.

Knockhall Castle, Aberdeenshire

Did you know you can buy a castle for £130,000 ($162,000 USD)? Ok, so it might be slightly derelict but who doesn’t want to own their own little slice of history? It’s beautiful too.

Knockhall Castle dates back to the 14th century and the exterior is largely complete, it is hoped someone can come along and transform it into a stunning residential property!

Devizes Castle, Wiltshire

With stone mullioned windows, beautifully detailed stone archways, majestic fireplaces, oak floorboards, working shutters, and high ceilings throughout, anyone would be lucky to live in this Grade I listed castle!

Even better, whilst the property is bursting in historic charm, there are plenty of modern comforts to enjoy, making it ideal for family living and entertaining alike. Book lovers can enjoy their own library complete with decoratively carved bookcases lining two walls and the drawing-room along with sweeping views of the garden could inspire any author to write.

Rebuilt during the reign of King Henry I, Devizes Castle has seen no shortage of Royal members, it even became the property of the Queens of England, including Henry VIII’s wives! By 1645 the Castle was held by the Royalists and was largely destroyed during the 17th Century Civil War between King and Parliament. Rebuilt again in the 1830s, the site of a castle was very welcome in Devizes once more.

The castle can be yours for a cool £3.2 million ($4 million USD).

Fa’side Castle, East Lothian

With panoramic views, anyone would be lucky to call this castle their home. Retaining many of its historic features including a stunning vaulted front door, flagstone floors and beamed ceilings, Fa’side Castle in East Lothian, Scotland even includes B&B holiday accommodation in the old 14th-century tower.

Like any dream castle, Fa’side includes a Great Hall, also dating back to the 14th century, a barrel-vaulted bedroom and even a library complete with a stone spiral staircase.

At £1.7 million ($2.1 million USD(, this castle seems like a steal compared to the similarly priced houses in South East England!

Glenborrodale Castle

If someone gave me the option to move to Scotland, the Highlands would be my number one choice! For those who haven’t been, you can expect to find mountains shrouded in mist, waterfalls aplenty, and your next-door neighbour is far more likely to be a sheep than a human. Castles are dotted all over the magnificent landscape and Glenborrodale Castle is currently on sale for a whopping £3.75 million ($465 million USD).

Glenborrodale Castle is a typical fairytale castle with 16 bedrooms, staff accommodation, a professional kitchen and a gate lodge, meaning if you wanted to turn it into a hotel, you can do! Built in 1902, its definitely more modern than most and doesn’t have the exciting backstories but the views overlooking Loch Sunart, the Isles of Carna and Oronsay and the Morven Hills mor than makeup for its lack of history.

Cotswolds: 7 Day Itinerary

The Cotswolds is a rural area of south-central England characterised by rolling hills and chocolate-box villages. There are many beautiful hotels, restaurants, manor houses and gardens to visit but it can be overwhelming knowing where to start.

Days 1 & 2

Broadway

The village of Broadway is popular amongst many. Located in the far north of the Cotswolds, this honey-coloured village is home to a wealth of independent shops, galleries, restaurants and hotels, it is also home to Broadway Tower, a historic monument standing 65 ft high with views stretching as far as the Welsh Mountains.

Things to see or do:

Broadway Tower – Enjoy the second-highest point in the Cotswolds at Broadway Tower, built for the Earl of Coventry in 1798 by renowned 18th Century architect James Wyatt. On a clear day, you can see up to 16 counties from the top of the Tower, including the beautiful Welsh mountains.

The tower can be accessed via a public footpath for those wanting to embark on a countryside walk, and with a car park for visitors. The Tower boasts three floors of exhibitions reached via a spiral staircase and a rooftop viewing platform looking out over the Cotswold escarpment.

Admission: £5 adults/£3 children

Snowshill – The epitome of English living, Snowshill is one of the prettiest villages in the country. Less than 3 miles from Broadway, it is a great place to enjoy a casual stroll and a pub lunch. It also boasts Snowshill Manor, a Cotswold manor house packed with extraordinary treasures collected over a life time by Charles Wade.

Admission: £12.80 adults/£6.40 children/Free for National Trust members

Chipping Campden – Another great place to base yourself, Chipping Campden is a 10-minute drive from central Broadway. This small market town can trace its origins back to the 7th century, it has a long, wide high street flanked with some great shops and restaurants.

Chipping Campden was one of the most prosperous towns in the Cotswolds in the 14th and 15th centuries thanks to the successful wool trade. Today Chipping Campden has retained its outstanding architectural heritage thanks to the renowned etcher and architect FL Griggs who moved to the town in 1904. For over 25 years he devoted all his resources and time in protecting the heritage Chipping Campden. Houses were restored, and in 1929 the Campden Trust was formed to continue the conservation effort.

Hidcote Manor Gardens – Home to a famous arts and crafts garden, Hidcote comprises a series of small gardens within a garden with long avenues bordered by different plantings.

Admission: £14.20 adults/£7.10 children/Free for National Trust members

Places to stay:

Lygon Arms ££ – With roaring open log fires, original panelling, a great hall and oodles of history, the Lygon Arms epitomises everything English. Dating back to the 1300s, guests can even visit the very suite in which Oliver Cromwell stayed the night before the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

The hotel became one for the upper class in the first half of the 20th century and has an array of Hollywood stars on their booking list, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor stayed here in 1963 at the height of the scandal surrounding their affair.

Prices start at £160 per night, book here.

The Broadway Hotel ££The Broadway Hotel has been designed to be a home away from home, sitting on the village green alongside beautiful boutique stores the property has just 19 individually designed guest rooms so make sure you book in early to avoid disappointment!

Prices start at £110 per night, book here.

Days 3 & 4

The Slaughters

Whilst the name ‘Slaughter’ isn’t the nicest, the neighbouring villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter could not be much sweeter! However, when you look into it, there is a reasoning behind the names. Slaughter derives from wetland ‘slough’ or ‘slothre’ (Old English for muddy place) upon which it lies due to the link is the tiny River Eye, a tributary to the nearby river Windrush.

Upper Slaughter, the smaller of the two villages, could easily be mistaken for a movie set, but people really live here! Just a small collection of golden cottages, there is no place more peaceful and pretty to walk than this village. Lower Slaughter is a little more well known and more visited thanks to its iconic mill which dates back to the 14th century. If it’s been a sunny week the walk between the two villages is very pleasant, it is around a mile in distance between the two but this walk is not possible when it’s flooded.

So why stay here? Both villages are very charming, quiet and the perfect escape into a peaceful countryside setting. As long as you have a car to get around in, there are many nearby places to enjoy whilst in the area.

Things to see or do:

The Old Mill Museum – A mill has been stood on the same site in Lower Slaughter since the Domesday records of 1086, and by the 14th century, it was known as the Slaughter Mill. the last production of flour was in 1958, the mill had been in the same family for four generations until sadly the last owner, Joseph Morris Wilkins, passed away from a heart attack.

The mill was opened to the public in 1995 and visitors can see the two sets of stones which were used for both grist milling and flour milling as well as an array of old machinery.

Admission: £2.50 adults/£1 children

Stow on the Wold – Stow on the Wold is a charming market town with a population of around 2000 people, making it one of the most delightful small towns in the Cotswolds. Home to grand manors and gardens, quaint cottages and a host of places to eat, visitors could easily spend a few hours meandering around the town.

Make sure you experience a very English afternoon tea at Lucy’s Tea Room and check out the ancient doorway of St Edward’s Church!

Bourton on the Water – Another well-known town in the Cotswolds, Bourton on the Water straddles the River Windrush, creating a picture-perfect village with beautiful waterside views and plenty of places to eat in and shop at.

The Cotswold Brewing Company – Do you like beer? The Cotswold Brewing Company is one of the oldest independent lager microbreweries in the UK with a diverse portfolio of lagers.

The Model Village – An attraction that kids never forget, the Model Village in Bourton on the Water is the only Grade II Listed model village in the country, offering a one-ninth scale replica of Bourton itself.

Admission: £4.20 adults/£3.40 children/Under 3s free

Places to stay:

The Slaughters Manor House ££ – A contemporary country house hotel in the heart of Upper Slaughter, guests can expect to wake up to the sound of singing birds rather than the rumbles of traffic.

The beautiful 4-star manor house combines a contemporary interior within a very country surrounding. With just 19 luxury guestrooms, the hotel never feels too busy and staff are able to offer you the highest levels of attention and service.

Prices start at £198 per night, click here to book.

Lords Of The Manor Hotel £££ – Described as one of the finest hotels in the Cotswolds, this 17th-century property in Upper Slaughter is set amongst 8 acres of stunning gardens and boasts not one but two sumptuous restaurants.

Prices start at £215 per night, click here to book.

Days 4 – 6

Cirencester

Located right on the edge of the Cotswolds, Cirencester was once the second largest town in Britain during the Roman times, surprising due to its relatively small size today. A once-prosperous Medieval wool town, Cirencester is now a typical British market town with a great array of high-end shops, independent businesses and plenty of nice architecture.

The central location of Cirencester makes it a go-to option for anyone wanting to explore the north or south of the Cotswolds, located an hour from Oxford and an hour from Bath, visitors have plenty of places to explore.

Things to see or do:

Bibury – Most well known for being printed in our passports, Bibury is home to Arlington Row, one of the most recognisable streets in England. Owned fully by the National Trust, Arlington Row is lined by weaver’s cottages dating back to the 14th century, guests can even stay at number 9 if they fancy it!

Corinium Museum – Thanks to its historic past, Cirencester has a lot of interesting artefacts to show off. The Corinium Museum presents a fascinating display of prehistoric tools, Roman mosaics, Anglo Saxon grave goods and even Medieval sculpture.

Admission: £5.80 adults/£2.80 children

Cirencester Park – Originally laid out in the 1700s, Cirencester Park has been a deer park, a military base, a hospital and the venue for a Glenn Miller concert. The park is easily accessible from town and offers expansive views, great for countryside walks.

Admission: Free of charge

Rodmarton Manor – Set amongst 8 acres of stunning gardens, Rodmarton Manor is a remarkable example of a house built and all its furniture made according to Arts and Crafts ideals. It was one of the last country houses to be built and furnished in the old traditional style when everything was done by hand with local stone, local timber and local craftsmen.

Opening: Wednesdays and Saturdays

Admission: £10 house/£7.50 garden only

Places to stay:

The Fleece ££: The Fleece at Cirencester is a 5-star 17th-century hotel with 28 elegant bedrooms with all the 21st luxuries you could need.

For those looking to end their trip on a high, why not book into the Fleece’s Feature Room?

Prices start at £110 per night, click here to book.

Corinium Hotel & Restaurant £: A small hotel on one of the oldest streets in Cirencester, the Corinium Hotel offers warm hospitality, delicious food and friendly service.

Prices start at £70 per night, click here to book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 to book.

Housed in a building dating back to the 16th century, the hotel is oozing in historic charm, encompassing 15 individual guestrooms, a cosy bar and a popular restaurant.

Prices start at £69 per night, click here to book.

Day 7

Head home!

The Most Amazing Train Journeys in the World

We can travel by car, by plane, by ferry and by cruise, but how often have you viewed the world from the comfort a train? I’m not talking about starting your holiday on the Gatwick Express or commuting to your job, I mean really see the world!

I grew up with a dad who LOVED trains, and the love of trains was passed down to me, although in a fairly more toned-down way. So I thought I would put together my top 5 list of amazing train journeys.

Belmond Hiram Bingham

I could probably have created the whole list and filled it with Belmond Trains but I thought you needed a little more variety. That being said, I will start with a Belmond journey!

Travel in the highest levels of comfort and luxury through Peru on the world-renowned Hiram Bingham. The trains are modelled on those that would have been around in the 1920s, and with personalist service, an observation car and even an elegant dining room, there is no better way to enjoy the beautiful Peruvian countryside.

Guests are welcomed on board with a delicious cocktail before tucking into a gourmet lunch, on the return trip guests can indulge in a fine dining dinner. Both meals are accompanied by a fantastic wine selection, other alcoholic beverages are also available.

Whilst it isn’t the cheapest train journey in the world, with tickets coming in at $495 USD each way, this is a once in a lifetime experience, it also includes afternoon tea at the beautiful Belmond Sanctuary Lodge.

Rovos Rail – Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is home to the largest curtain of falling water in the world, located halfway along the Zambezi River the falls are now listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Starting in Pretoria, South Africa, the Rovos Rail takes travellers on a 3-day journey crossing over the Tropic of Capricorn en route to the border with Zimbabwe. The train travels over the world’s longest stretch straight of track before arriving in Hwange National Park where you can spot wildlife from the comfort of your own seat, a game drive is also included! On arrival into Victoria Falls, guests are invited to stay overnight and can experience white water rafting, game drives and photo safaris.

The train itself has been painstakingly restored back to its former Edwardian elegance and even boasts an open-air viewing platform.

Rocky Mountaineer

The Canadian Rockies are home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world and the Rocky Mountaineer is the most iconic way to view them.

The Rocky Mountaineer offers a number of different routes and classes of travel to suit different budgets. Custom-designed glass dome carriages mean you won’t miss a thing and guests who want to get one step closer to nature can delight in the outdoor viewing area.

Whilst the train journeys travel over a few days, guests do not stay on the trains, they stay in stunning hotels along the way including the 5* Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel if you travel in Gold Leaf class!

The Sunset Limited

Most people think of road trips when they dream of travelling across the USA, but did you know there is a train journey that can take you from New Orleans to Los Angeles in just 2 days?

The Sunset Limited is the oldest named train in the US and travels 3 days a week, taking you from New Orleans through to San Antoni, Tucson, Phoenix and terminating at Los Angeles. Travellers can expect to see a variety of different landscapes such as Bayou Country, the Mexican border, southwestern deserts and Californian mountains.

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

I thought I would save the most famous till last, the one that I dream of travelling on the most! The Orient Express transports guests back in time, taking them across Europe in some of the most iconic train carriages in the world. The train epitomises all the glamour and old age romance of the rails from a time gone by.

Elegant carriages offer luxurious sleeping quarters with fine fabrics and glossy wood panelling. Twin cabins offer plush banquette seating by day before being transformed into stunning bedrooms each evening.

Guests can start their journey in London, stepping into beautiful cream and brow carriages before flying through the magical Kent countryside. Waiters wearing white gloves will serve guests a delicious 4-course gourmet dinner as you sail through France, stopping at Paris, home to the original station that served the Orient Express over 100 years ago.

The hardest part? Having to go to sleep instead of staying up and watching the Swiss Mountains glide past you. But don’t worry, there will be plenty of sightseeing when you wake up, and an afternoon tea before steaming into Venice, Italy’s most recognisable city.

Why We Should Worry About Coronavirus

I’m sure we have all heard it the last few weeks ‘why is everyone panicking about Coronavirus? It’s just like the flu?’

You are correct in thinking the flu kills many more thousands of people than COVID-19 but there are some substantial differences between the two that means they simply cannot be compared with each other.

We can vaccinate against flu

Every year in the UK we vaccinate hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people against the flu, this means we are able to continue visiting our elderly grandparents without worrying about giving them anything. The symptoms of COVID-19 might be similar to the flu but the problem is we don’t know enough about the virus to know whether it can cause irreversible health issues, we don’t know exactly how it is spreading so fast and we don’t know 100% the profile of the disease and why the mortality rate is higher. The flu has been around for a long time, long enough that we have developed effective treatments and immunisations, the same cannot be said for COVID-19.

It could cripple healthcare systems

In the UK we are extremely blessed to have access to free healthcare. Our healthcare system is put under strain each winter due to the influx of cases of the flu. Now, imagine how bad it is when dealing with a huge flurry of cases of a virus you don’t know 100% how to deal with, don’t forget we are still in flu season and they are dealing with that too.

COVID-19 is likely to put an unprecedented strain on the NHS the number of cases here takes the same pattern as what we have seen in China and Italy. This is not only bad on those who catch the virus and need hospital care, but for those who need hospitalisation for other conditions who cannot even get a bed because they are all full.

“It only kills the elderly”

My first question is, why should we palm something off because it might only kill the older generation? That is a hideous way of thinking, these are people who all deserve to live just as much as we do. At what point does a person’s life stop mattering? We need to change this way of thinking, many of these ‘elderly’ people have children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. They may have pets, they may be pillars of their community, they may have fought for the freedom of our country, and that is why we ALL need to take this seriously. Travelling to places such as Northern Italy might not affect you more than giving you mild flu symptoms, but you could infect tens or even hundreds of people on your return home, who could infect hundreds more. This puts the most vulnerable people of society at risk just because you think YOU will be fine. Remember the bigger picture.

To help curb the outbreak, we need to rely on the actions of young, healthy people take, including reporting symptoms and following quarantine instructions, as this will have one of the most important roles in protecting the most vulnerable in society.

COVID-19 could cause extreme health complications to those with underlying health problems

You don’t have to be 85 years old in order to be vulnerable to COVID-19. There are hospitals filled with patients with cancer, cystic fibrosis, cancer etc – many of these people are young, some are children and some are even babies. These may be people who have a good chance of recovering, but if they are hit by Coronavirus, it could set back their treatment or even kill them.

It may still affect you, even if you don’t catch it

We have seen in China and Italy how schools and universities have been shut down, huge office blocks closed. The pressure on businesses could be huge, especially small, independently run businesses that don’t have huge amounts of cash or assets.

Then we have the issue of who looks after the children if schools are shut? Parents or guardians will be forced to take leave from work to take care of the kids that have been sent home for two weeks. There are 3 million children in this country who rely on school dinners to be fed, if these schools close, these children are at a huge risk of going hungry as their parents cannot afford to feed them. In countries with major outbreaks, the burdens have fallen on nearly everyone, sick or not. I have had paid jobs cancelled or postponed due to the risk of travelling, I appreciate there has been no way around this but I am self-employed and every job matters.

Economic consequences can spiral quickly, supply chains are being disrupted, many businesses rely on products being shipped from China, Tesco for example sources their pasta from Italy. When each area is shut down, that is another bump in the supply chain. The domino effect feeds the decline of each business which effects us all in some way.

Governments have limited budgets, and at a time when more needs to be put in healthcare, it can then become difficult to support those who are left out of work due to the Virus. FlyBe has recently blamed Coronavirus for their collapse, as a budget airline, they had very little cash reserves. As a company that was already struggling to stay afloat, the negative economic impact and the apprehension of investors to put a rescue package together at this time has meant FlyBe has gone into administration, leaving 2000 staff without a job.

So, next time you think Coronavirus isn’t going to cause a threat to you, just think about the time you will need to take off work if your child’s school is closed, or your grandma who wants to reach her next birthday, or perhaps even just your financial position, we all have a reason to worry. And before I leave you, let me remind you that worrying should not = panic. Panic does not help anyone, we just need to be sensible and aware. If you have travelled to a COVID-19 hotspot such as northern Italy or China, you need to speak to a healthcare professional or self-isolate. If you need to buy supplies, be sensible about it, you don’t need 50 packets of toilet roll and a cupboard full of pasta. If you live near someone who is vulnerable or alone, offer help, perhaps you could do their shopping for them or at least leave some supplies at their door so they don’t run out or have to enter into a high-risk area.

Last but not least, please be kind and please be empathetic. We all rely on each other in some way and it’s selfish to dismiss someone else’s plight because it doesn’t make you suffer.

The world will continue turning, hopefully, the number of deaths will stay fairly low. But at the end of the day, the worry is much more than the risk of us becoming ill.