Bled, Slovenia


We arrived into Bled late in the afternoon after arriving into Ljubljana airport to be greeted by smoking trees, seriously, I’ve never seen anything like it. We descended down toward the runway and could just see forests of trees with plumes of mist rising up from them, actually magical. We’d booked a taxi transfer to Bled which made getting there super easy and quick. We checked into our fantastic Airbnb property and once we were settled headed out to Pizza Rustika for a first night dinner before catching the stunning view above.


The next morning we woke early in our amazing lakeside Airbnb and while a minor electricity problem was being fixed we headed out for a walk around the lake to explore and get our bearings in the daylight. Located within a pedestrianised zone, our Airbnb was perfectly placed for a wander.


After catching glimpses of the view from between the lakeside trees, we emerged from the tree-lined path by the Bled rowing club and got to see the full expanse of the lake in front of us. Although the morning was slightly overcast it was so beautiful to see the rolling hills (mountains?) around the lake.


As we continued around the lake, we were afforded views of Bled castle perched high above the lake and also beautiful views across to the island in the lake. The most stunning thing about the lake is just how clear the water is, which might be partly due to the fact that motor boats aren’t allowed and so there’s no pollution from them. If you stand at the edge you can see right down to the bottom of the lake and once you’ve started looking you realise that it’s teeming with fish, which is probably why the banks of the lake are dotted with anglers and their kit.


Although motorised boats aren’t permitted on the lake, it isn’t devoid of activity and ‘Pletna’ boats (wooden flat-bottomed boats propelled by oars) regularly traverse the lake, transporting up to 20 tourists  at a time to and from the island.


We had five nights in Bled which allowed us four full days there. At first I was concerned that I’d booked too much time there but knew that it would be nice for both us of to just have some time chilling out and if nothing else, just catching up on some reading. As it turn out, it was the perfect amount of time for us (and we could have even done another day and made a trip out to Lake Bohinj), we took things easy and at our own pace. We woke in the morning and enjoyed a leisurely cup of tea out on the terrace looking out over the lake and watching the various birds that flitted from tree to tree. The tree across from the terrace was also frequented on a daily basis by a tiny black squirrel, unfortunately he was always far too quick for my camera.


When we weren’t out exploring the surrounding area (including Vintgar Gorge), kayaking or clambering up hills just to see the view (more on that to come) we spent our time playing some of the games in our Airbnb, reading or eating. Bled is famous for its cream cakes and although they originated at the Park Hotel, they can be found everywhere – ours came from the Mercator. Perfect vanilla morsels for elevensies.


In the afternoons we headed down to our own private jetty to sit out on loungers and read or watch the world going by. I must admit that although our Airbnb wasn’t particularly cheap, sitting out on our own private dock drinking wine in the late afternoon and watching the tourist boats go by left us with a really smug feeling. I hate myself, but it’s true. It reminded me of why I work so hard, to be able to just be at peace and enjoy moments like that in phenomenal locations.


Seriously, this was a view from our jetty – amazing, right?


Our first two days in Slovenia were a little grey and overcast, but the second two days were gloriously sunny and beautiful, which really brought out the beauty of the water and the lake, particularly the greens in the shallows. Around the west side of the lake near the rowing club is a gorgeous wooden boulevard which allows you to get close up to the water (not that we needed it with our lovely jetty). It’s a great place to view the island from.

bled038 bled036

Not only did we have direct access to the water on our jetty but, in addition to a rope swing (yes, I did brave a swim in the lake one day) we also had access to two kayaks so we could get out onto the water whenever we wanted. We definitely took advantage of the kayaks and at least took one trip out and around the island every day.


Although we mostly took a daily lap around the island, we did one day decide to paddle over to the island and explore. We left it a day or two before going as I needed to master my getting out of the kayak skills. It sounds like it should be easy but honestly there were about two days where my method of getting out of the kayak mostly involved my boyfriend holding onto the kayak while I sort of army rolled myself out of the kayak onto dry land (seriously not graceful and not very much beached whale) which was not helped by my boyfriend laughing at me which immediately rendered me unable to do anything other than lie half on the jetty and half still in the kayak in fits of giggles. Not elegant but ultimately fine in the privacy of our own property, not something I could do in front of other people on the island though. So, after a few days of practice getting out of the kayak, we headed over to the island.

It’s just a small island that mostly plays home to a church that dates back to the 17th century. It’s biggest feature is the bell tower which houses, in particular, a ‘wishing bell’ which dates from 1534 and whoever rings this bell gets their wish come true. Needless to say, the bell can be heard regularly ringing out across the lake.


We stopped for ice cream (make sure you take some cash) and sat enjoying it on the steps of the island, looking down towards the Pletna boats.


On our first trip out in the kayak we returned back to the house to find that our jetty had become a little suntrap for a few snoozing ducks. We felt bad about disturbing them but we did have to dock somehow and as we got closer they did get the hint and jumped into the lake and swam off, leaving me to roll out of the kayak without judgmental duck stares.


Remember that I said the water was clear? Well that water in the shot below was at least 7 feet deep and it’s clear right to the bottom – perfection.


We loved our Airbnb, it was the perfect base for our Bled break. It offered a fabulous traditional Slovenian-style getaway and could not have been more perfectly located. It sits in the ground of a larger private property and the grounds of the property are dotted with sculptures and large scale art pieces. It’s seconds from the pedestrianised road but is very private and from the water you have complete privacy.


We fell in love with Bled entirely and it was partly due to the great place we stayed, although I have some breathtaking views of Bled to share in another post.

If you haven’t stayed with Airbnb before and fancy it, I have a referral link which will give you (and me) account credit – just click here.

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York, the original city adventure

Image source: Visit York (

By the time that this post goes live I should hopefully be tucking into a train picnic whilst speeding northwards out of London for a weekend in York.

I’ve been invited to York for a weekend for a city break by Visit York so that I can experience the city and discover its hidden gems for myself. I’ll have access to a York Pass which offers free entry to over 30 York attractions and tours as well as restaurant and shopping offers, so we certainly won’t be short of things to do and see over the course of the weekend.

Coming third in a list of ‘Britain’s 20 Best Cities’, as voted for by readers in the Telegraph Travel Awards 2016, I’m really excited to spend a weekend in York.

The team at Visit York have put together a stunning video which gives just a small glimpse at the beauty of the city and shows why York is the original city adventure:

You can follow along with my adventure this weekend on my various social media channels. I’ll be posting to Instagram and Twitter, all with the hashtag #OriginalCityAdventure. And of course, if you can’t get enough of York, make sure you follow @visitYork on Twitter.

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Becoming a Pasta Master at the Jamie Oliver Cookery School

Pasta Master cookery class at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School, Westfield, London

When my boyfriend moved down to London from Sheffield to join me, he handed in his notice at work and was put on garden leave for a few months, he spent his days reading, going swimming and watching Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute and 15 minute meal programmes. Every day I would be regaled with details about what he’d watched Jamie cook up that day. I had high hopes for when he moved in with me and imagined trading in my sad post-work toasted bagel for some wonderfully tasty dinner whipped up and ready on the table when I got home. I’m not sure what happened, but my wonderful dinners never materialised.

So, when I received an invitation to visit Jamie Oliver’s Cookery School and take one of their classes, I thought that this might be a chance to learn to cook my own fantastic dinner, I mean, a girl should never have to rely on a man for her dinner!

Located in Westfield London, the Jamie Oliver Cookery School is hidden away at the back of the Jamie Oliver restaurant, although it’s actually surprisingly spacious, with not only plenty of kitchen work stations but also a large dining area for enjoying the products of your labour.

The Cookery School runs all sorts of classes to suit every possible taste – Korean, Thai, Mexican, Japanese, Indian, you name it, they teach it. We decided to go for the Pasta Master course, which would teach us how to make and use perfect pasta dough.

We arrived and were handed a glass of prosecco, courtesy of Jamie, who apparently likes to kick off the classes with a glass. I can get on board with any class that starts with prosecco.

Pasta Master cookery class at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School, Westfield, London Pasta Master cookery class at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School, Westfield, LondonPasta Master cookery class at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School, Westfield, London

We jumped straight into the class with a quick demonstration about how to whip up a quick pasta dough. It really is ridiculously quick and easy – just one egg and some 00 flour combined together and then kneaded and left to rest for a bit while we watched a demonstration of the pasta machine.

Pasta Master cookery class at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School, Westfield, London Pasta Master cookery class at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School, Westfield, London

Our instructor demonstrated how to make three different types of pasta using the machine – tagliatelle, angel hair and farfalle (the little bow ties). Tagliatelle and angel hair are ridiculously easy, after folding and feeding the pasta through the machine several times on different width settings, you just feed it through an attachment and out pops perfectly cut pasta. Who knew it was this easy?

Farfalle required a bit more work, but it really just requires the ability to cut little rectangles out and then pinch them together. They might not be as small or uniform as shop-bought ones, but they do the job.

Pasta Master cookery class at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School, Westfield, London Pasta Master cookery class at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School, Westfield, LondonPasta Master cookery class at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School, Westfield, London Pasta Master cookery class at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School, Westfield, London

Once we’d been shown how to make the pasta dough, our instructor whipped up three different quick and easy sauces, one for each type of pasta. We also got to taste them all to see which one we liked the best. They were all good but I was surprised by the wonderful simplicity of the butter and sage sauce.

Pasta Master cookery class at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School, Westfield, London Pasta Master cookery class at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School, Westfield, London

Once we’d watched and tasted, it was our turn to return to our balls of dough and try it for ourselves. I went to the class with my boyfriend and I think it’s actually cleared up a lot about our relationship. It turns out that he really doesn’t pay attention to instructions. He managed to ignore the instructions to fold the pasta before feeding it through the machine and went down too thin on the machine. Guess which are his attempts below and which are mine (#smug)!

Pasta Master cookery class at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School, Westfield, London

Once we had our pasta all made, we whipped up a creamy mushroom sauce, chucked in the cooked pasta and stirred it all together to coat the pasta before serving up and taking it over to the table to enjoy with our fellow classmates and a side salad.

Pasta Master cookery class at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School, Westfield, London Pasta Master cookery class at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School, Westfield, LondonPasta Master cookery class at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School, Westfield, London

Now, Jamie Oliver might know his cooking stuff, but I’m not sure that he’s an instagrammer as the light over the table was definitely set up for a nice cosy communal dinner over wine (very hygge) and not for instagramming. I’m sure everyone wants to take great pictures of their amazing creations before tucking in. If I was Jame I’d definitely invest in some soft daylight lighting and pretty plates, because when you’ve made your own dinner it’s entirely legitimate to want to take a bazillion photos to post on social media before eating. If you want to follow them on social media though, you can find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Whilst it might not look like much on the plate, it tasted great – just like proper pasta. I was well chuffed with our first attempt at pasta. We left full and so pleased with ourselves. My boyfriend spent the journey home talking about buying us a pasta machine so we can whip up our own homemade pasta for a weeknight dinner or impress friends at a dinner party.

Now we’ve mastered pasta, maybe the next step is filled pasta, luckily Jamie has a class for that too! Prices for the classes vary but start at £35, which for a life skill is pretty damn reasonable in my view.

Our class was provided on a complimentary basis but the views expressed here are my own unbiased opinions. Thanks Jamie Oliver Cookery School! 

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Dinner at Bled Castle

dinner at the Bled Castle restaurant

Before I booked our Slovenia trip I was concerned that four full days in Bled (plus an evening and a bit of a morning) might be a bit too much as essentially, there’s not really a lot of ‘sights’ as such. As it was, we had a wonderful time mostly just messing around on kayaks, clambering up hills and riding bikes. We did go out to Vintgar Gorge one day but other than that, the only thing that we did that was touristy was to pay a visit to Bled Castle. Dating back to at least 1011, Bled Castle can be seen from the entire surrounding area.

dinner at the Bled Castle restaurant dinner at the Bled Castle restaurant

If you aren’t up for the climb/clamber up to one of the famous viewpoints on the west side of the lake but would still like a bird’s eye view of the lake, then the view from Bled Castle is probably the best you’ll get. Located on a steep cliff, 130 metres above the lake, you’ll have a fantastic view down over the lake and to the town.

dinner at the Bled Castle restaurantdinner at the Bled Castle restaurant

You also look across to a hill that is in winter is a ski run, but in summer plays host to a tobogganing track. Unfortunately we went right at the end of the season when its opening hours were limited to the weekends, which we didn’t coincide with – next time we’ll go though, it looks ace!

dinner at the Bled Castle restaurantdinner at the Bled Castle restaurant dinner at the Bled Castle restaurantdinner at the Bled Castle restaurant

The entrance fee to Bled Castle is €10 for adults and inside there are various things to see, including a museum about the history of Bled, a forge and printing works. I must admit that it’s not the most thrilling of places to visit, the most appealing thing about it being its location and view.

dinner at the Bled Castle restaurant dinner at the Bled Castle restaurant

Rather than pay to gain admission to the Castle, we decided to instead book to have dinner in the Castle restaurant, which allows you in for free. We booked a slightly earlier dinner than we might have otherwise had, so that we could spend some time inside the castle while it was still open and light. It meant that we sat down to dinner when it was light and got to watch the sky darkening to black.

dinner at the Bled Castle restaurant

We were presented with a choice of two tasting menus for €45 each (although people arriving for a later dinner seemed to also have a choice of an a la carte menu), one with various meat dishes and one with various fish options. We both chose a different tasting menu, although started with the same little taster dish from the kitchen – a tiny crisp bread served with a light horseradish dip. Not too horseradish-y which was great for me as it’s not a taste I love, there was just a hint of it. Lovely.

dinner at the Bled Castle restaurant

First up were cold appetisers – a rainbow trout fillet with yoghurt mousse and fried leeks for my boyfriend…

dinner at the Bled Castle restaurant

…and smoked goose breast, apple with black radish and grapes with a honey and mustard dressing. I wasn’t sure when both dishes were described as being cold but once they arrived it worked and I got it.

dinner at the Bled Castle restaurant

Next up were hot appetisers. My boyfriend’s was spelt risotto with chanterelle powder and a scallop.

dinner at the Bled Castle restaurant

My dish was much more unusual, at least to me anyway – medla with poached yolk and Carniolan sausage. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the menu description. Medla is a traditional dish made from flour and millet porridge. It was an unusual dish, the medla itself was fairly bland and only given texture by the little sausage sprinkles. Inoffensive, but I’m not sure I’d order it again if I was given the choice though.

dinner at the Bled Castle restaurant

As a main, my boyfriend had a sea bass fillet with grapes, fennel and red onion cooked in parchment. It wasn’t particularly photogenic so it doesn’t get a photo. My main was Tournedos Rossini – filet mignon, foie gras, bread crouton, onion jam, sauce and truffles. The steak was beautifully cooked. If I’d realised that the foie gras was so substantial then I’d have requested the dish without it as I don’t eat it, so just left it to one side. It was a rich dish anyway with the sauce and balanced somewhat by the vegetables.

dinner at the Bled Castle restaurant

We shared the desserts – a wonderfully rich chocolate cake with a pear and wine mousse…

dinner at the Bled Castle restaurant

… and a nut roll with vanilla sauce. My boyfriend despaired as I filled my nut roll’s core with vanilla sauce only to watch it seep out of the bottom and over the board it was served on. I mopped it all up with the nut roll and it was fine, but I did realise that a better approach was to dip bits of the nut roll in the sauce. Honestly, he can’t take me anywhere.

dinner at the Bled Castle restaurant

If you do want to visit Bled Castle, I would recommend booking dinner in the restaurant (ask for a table by the window), getting into the Castle for free means you essentially save money on dinner. We had a lovely evening and happily wound our way down the hill in the dark (have your phone torch app at the ready) back to our lovely little house.

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