Artsmouth

Since galleries and exhibitions have been closed this has left artists across the country looking at creative ways to display their latest artistic endeavours. Two local creative businesses, Portsdown Graphic Design and Tiny Engines, have come up with a great solution to support local artists in Portsmouth. Artsmouth is a curated virtual art gallery providing visual artists with links to Portsmouth the opportunity to exhibit their work.

The virtual gallery opened in April 2020 and has exhibited works by more than 25 local artists including Williamson Art and Photography, James Mankiewicz and striking artworks by Mark Kellett. The latest exhibition, titled My View of Portsmouth, showcases work by local photographer Daniel Yarker, also known as Mullion Marauder and is best known for his monochromatic images of Southsea. My View of Portsmouth is available to view from 19th June to 2nd July 2020. My favourite exhibition so far has been the most recent group exhibition which displayed a range of illustrations, oil paintings and acrylic on canvas.

Submit your artwork

If you’d like to get involved with future exhibitions you can submit artwork here. Before you apply you should be aware of the submission requirements:

  • Must be a visual artist with strong ties to Portsmouth.
  • Submissions are open to Painters, Illustrators, Sculptors, Photographers, Textile Artists, Print Makers, Digital Artists, Cartoonists – a high quality of art will need to be submitted.
  • Images are displayed for public viewing only, not for selling.

Brb submitting photography to Artsmouth! 😀

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How have businesses in Portsmouth responded to the Covid-19 pandemic?

One of the things that has really impressed me during the Covid-19 pandemic has been the response of the local business community in Portsmouth. Restaurants, cafes, local book shops, beauty salons to name a few have all responded in a multitude of ways to keep their businesses operating throughout the pandemic. I’ve put together a list of some of the local businesses I have either been supporting during this time or have been inspired by their flexibility during such an economically difficult time.

  1. Pigeon Books in Southsea. During Lockdown reading has really helped keep me sane. In the ‘normal world’ I tend to view reading as my last option to keep myself entertained, when Netflix fails to provide the goods I usually turn to Spotify. Before completely exhausting all of my social media timelines I *may* consider settling down and reading a book. There are usually a multitude of ways I can distract myself my mind even considers reading a book. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love reading but I really have to be in the right frame of mind to sit down and digest a good book. Personally, I’m not a massive fan of fiction I much prefer non-fiction, particularly anything to do with African American History, social movements, sociology and psychology. In a bid to keep my mind more active and my anxiety at bay I’ve been reading way more than I usually would. Thankfully I came across Pigeon Books who are based in Southsea and have continued providing a delivery service across Portsmouth since having to close the shop. I was even more thankful when browsing their selection of books I spotted a number of books that have been on my Amazon wish list for quite some time. I’m always grateful when given the opportunity to avoid using Amazon! Here are the books I ordered and received just 2 days later:
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts – Gabor Mate & The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper – Hallie Rubenhold.

2. The Tenth Hole – one of Southsea’s most popular cafes The Tenth Hole reopened at the end of May offering whole cakes for collection. As soon as they made this announcement I opened up gmail immediately to place an order! They made the announcement 3 days before my dad’s birthday and had his favourite cake on the menu – strawberry and clotted cream sponge, perfect! I placed the order on a Thursday and the cake was available for collection by Saturday morning. They have a whole range of cakes on offer for collection: coffee and walnut, jam and buttercream, carrot cake and mixed berry cheesecake to name a few. Prices range from £35 to £40 and you can find the full menu list here along with information on how to order.

Strawberry and Clotted Cream sponge from The Tenth Hole.

3. Garage Lounge in Southsea is one of mine and my sisters favourite cafes to grab breakfast and a cup of tea so we were absolutely ecstatic when they began trading again in the middle of May. Garage Lounge, along with many local businesses in Portsmouth have started to utilise Uber Eats delivery service. Along with delivery you can also pick up your order from the cafe at the front door.

Vanilla Latte from Garage Lounge

4. Katy Carter Aesthetics and Beauty based in Tangiers Road is a beauty salon I have yet to visit but do have an appointment booked for the Holy Grail facial in July. Fingers crossed it’s still able to go ahead because I am super excited to have this treatment as I’ve heard SO many good things! At the start of lockdown the salon began selling raffle tickets through their Instagram page giving buyers the chance to win a number of their high priced (and highly recommended) facials. I thought this was a genius idea as it provided the salon with cash flow at a difficult time but also positive content to fill their socials.

5. Bonitas on Palmerston Road is one of my favourite places to get cocktails and a bite to eat and luckily for us they have continued serving delicious boozy brunches throughout lockdown!

6. Providing gift vouchers during lockdown has been vital for many businesses to improve cash flow whilst being unable to open their premises. The Portsmouth News have put together an extensive list of restaurants continuing to offer vouchers and takeaways during the pandemic. It’s not just restaurants offering gift vouchers but hairdressers and beauty salons too, my sister purchased a gift voucher from my hairdresser at Sheppard & Co for my birthday. That’s one gift voucher I’ll be cashing in as soon as possible! Here is some of the great work that Sheppard & Co and given me –

Which local businesses have you been supporting during lockdown?

#CreateUpPompey

One of the interesting developments I have enjoyed seeing during the Covid-19 pandemic is how local communities and businesses are adapting to the current circumstances. One initiative that has really inspired me is the #CreateUpPompey campaign by Portsmouth Creates.

A colouring book was created including artwork donated by local artists, designers and illustrators for all to enjoy as a mindfulness exercise during the pandemic. The colouring book features artwork from prominent Portsmouth artists such as My Dog Sighs, FarkFK, Samo plus so many more! It’s so lovely to see the array of artwork including which really highlights how many fantastic creatives we have living in Portsmouth. You can download the art pack on the Portsmouth Creates website for free.

Alongside the Portsmouth Creates colouring book they are currently holding a giveaway. To enter the competition you just have to download the colouring book and submit your colourful creations! You can enter by posting your creations on social media, tagging Portsmouth Creates and using #CreateUpPompey. G2G getting my colouring pencils xoxo.

Top things to do in Liverpool

A little fact readers may not know about is my mum comes from Liverpool which has given me the chance to visit the amazing city practically every year since I was a child. Over the past few years I tend to try and get there a couple of times a year to visit family so I’ve definitely experienced lots of different aspects of the city. Here are some of my top things to do in Liverpool, ranging from cultural activities to those all important Beatles venues!

1. Beatles Museum – This is an obvious one for Beatles fans but I think even if you’re not a hardcore fan there’s something for everyone. I’ve been twice now and both times there have been families enjoying the exhibition, children seem to love the Yellow Submarine themed room!

2. Tate Modern – I made the mistake of visiting the Tate with my cousin once, he hated every minute of it! Now the Tate is not for everyone, modern art doesn’t tickle everyone’s fancy but it’s definitely worth it to get some culture in you one afternoon, it won’t hurt 😉

3. Shopping in Liverpool One. Liverpool has one of the best shopping centres in the UK, I absolutely love it and I’m not really a shopping fanatic at all. So that must be saying something! There are also lots of restaurants to choose from in the shopping centre.

4. Magical Mystery Tour – Now this one may only be interesting to big Beatles fans. Jump on the Magical Mystery Tour at the Docks, it’ll take you on a tour of important locations in Beatles history; the lads childhood homes, Brian Epstein’s home, Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane and ends at The Cavern Club.

5. Enjoy the nightlife! Liverpool is one of the top places for a night out in the UK, the drinks are cheap (by London standards at least), the people are lovely and there are so many bars to choose from you’l be spoilt for choice! For my next visit, I’ve got my eyes on The Florist .

6. Head up St. John’s Beacon and see Liverpool from above! Tickets are available here.

7. World Museum – oh i do love a good museum, the history geek in me gets excited seeing historical portraits and sculptures. Don’t even get me started on those marble busts :’).There are so many museums to choose from if the World Museum doesn’t take your fancy

Taken during Liverpool Pride 2016

8. Take the infamous ferry across the Mersey. You can’t visit Liverpool without jumping on the ferry!

9. Co-ordinate your trip around any number of the amazing live events that take place. There are so many great live venues across Liverpool, big and small.

10. The Beatles Story is a great museum covering the early days of the fab four right up to their solo careers. Even if you’re not a massive fan of The Beatles you can’t visit Liverpool without taking a look at music history!

I initially planned on featuring 5 things to do in Liverpool but there is so much more to do I had to extend it to 10 which still doesn’t cover all of the great things the city has to offer!

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Beat those airline luggage fees!

In previous posts I’ve discussed how to bag amazing travel deals with Wowcher and Groupon, to ensure you keep costs low you’ll want to invest in the correct luggage to prevent yourself being hit with those pesky luggage fee’s cheap airlines love to hit you with! If you’ve never flown with Ryan Air before here is some helpful information on their luggage requirements:

All passenger fare types include a small personal bag, which must fit under the seat in front of you. In order to avoid the extra fees you’re going to want to take the essentials away with you and hopefully fit everything you need into this sized luggage:

Ryan Air has one of the most stringent cabin baggage policies so if you’re able to purchase luggage that fits their requirements you’ll be good to go with any other airline! If you’re travelling on a shoe string beating luggage fees can be one way to guarantee you’ll stay on budget. I will admit it can be VERY difficult to try and fit everything you need into one cabin bag, I’ve only managed this once on my trip to Tallinn as I was only visiting for 2 nights and didn’t need a massive amount. I think 3 nights is probably the maximum amount of time away you would be able to pack for but hey you might be a really lightweight packer and could teach me a thing or two about minimising luggage!

I’ve put together some of the best cabin luggage deals I’ve found, for full disclosure these items do include affiliate links.

  1. This Aerolite cabin bag starts at only £11.49 and is available in black, charcoal, rose gold and wine. It’s slightly less boujee than I would like personally but the biggest appeal is the bag is cheaper than the extra fees!!
  2. If backpacks are more your thing this Cabin Max travel bag may be for you! Personally I’m more of a Fjallraven Kanken kinda girl but they can be super pricey so this is definitely a great alternative.

3. This Daabliz travel flight bag is lightweight, waterproof and a pretty cute alternative to the Aerolite cabin bag.

4. Finally my favourite is this Eastarer laptop backpack which would be perfect for business trips.

I hope I’ve given you some inspiration on combatting the luggage fees and saving yourself some money. One final tip is to always make sure you check the luggage allowance and the dimensions given by the airline as this tends to differ dependent on the airline you are flying with. Some airlines are more lenient than others, not naming anyone in particular but I think you can guess from my previous posts…

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Guide to visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria

I’ve recently come back from a weekend break to Munich and I think it’s safe to say Bavaria is the most beautiful place I’ve been so far. Maybe Copenhagen is close second but the views in the Bavarian alps are close to perfection. You can’t visit the region without going to Neuschwanstein Castle. If you haven’t heard of the castle (do you live under a rock?!) it’s the most visited tourist attraction in Bavaria and it always ranks highly on lists of the top attractions across Germany. Here’s a couple of snaps I took whilst I was there which may jog your memory!

Time for a quick history lesson before we get into the travel deets, feel free to skip this part if you have an aversion for the historical. I want to take this opportunity to try and prove to myself having a history degree wasn’t a complete waste of time! So, the castle (Schloss if you speak German, GCSE Germany wasn’t a complete waste of time either!) was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria in honour of the composer Wagner. You may have heard of Ludwig II being referred to as ‘Mad King Ludwig’, whilst he was undoubtedly eccentric the label of ‘mad’ came from a ploy by the Bavarian government to have him deposed. The government had to rid themselves of Ludwig as he was running up large debts with his compulsions to build spectacular castles (see Linderhof Palace and Herrenchiemsee Palace). If you’re into conspiracy theories then you’ll totes want to read up on how Ludwig died..

Getting to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich

It’s really easy to get to the castle from Munich, there are several different routes or transport you can take:

1. Train – from the main train station in Munich (Hauptbahnhof) you can easily get to Neuschwanstein Castle. The destination you will be looking for when purchasing your ticket is ‘Füssen’. Once you’ve arrived at Füssen then you will need to take the bus to Neuschwanstein. The stop you will be needing is “Hohenschwangau Neuschwanstein Castles, Schwangau”. Go here for more information on local bus routes. It will be fairly obvious when you arrive which stop you will need to get off at as you will be at the base of the castle at the visitor information point (Hohenschwangau). Just look directly upwards and you’ll spot the castle nestled in the hills…

View of Neuschwanstein Castle from Hohenschwangau.

For more information on train routes visit Bahn.

2. Local tours – if like me you’re a bit of a baby and unable to follow simple instructions then a local tour may be preferable to you. We booked our tour through Get Your Guide, I highly recommend this company I usually book the majority of my tours through them as it’s a super simple process and you can get everything arranged before you even leave the country. Our trip cost around £40 which included our train fare, bus and guided tour up to the castle. You have to pay for your tickets into the castle separately if you’d like to go inside, which after walking all of the way to the top why wouldn’t you?! Alternatively there are so many kiosks around Munich where you can buy tour tickets, these are likely to be a coach trip. If you prefer travelling by train I would recommend booking via Get Your Guide.

3. Car – if you’re brave enough to drive in Europe (as mentioned before I’m a total baby and haven’t attempted to do this yet) then you’ll have the freedom the stop off at the many beautiful locations along the way. After a quick google search you take the A7 motorway in the direction of Ulm-Kempten-Füssen until the end. I’m sure if you choose this option you’ll be using a sat nav or Google Maps, unless you’re a natural born navigator..

Arriving at Hohenschwangau

Once you’ve successfully made it to the visitor centre for the castle you’ll be out of breath just looking at the route up to the castle. Unless you’re actually fit and healthy then you’ll be thinking pfft this is easy peasy. Of course I fall under the first category. You have the option of taking a shuttle bus up the castle which costs: Uphill 2.50 euros, downhill 1.50 euro and a return trip is 3 euros. I did debate whether to take the shuttle bus but thought I would miss the beautiful views on the way up and down, even if it did mean my thighs were burning the whole time! If you’re looking for a more romantic option (yuck) then there is the option to travel up to the castle via horse-drawn cart, this costs: uphill is 7 euros and the downhill trip is 3.50 euros. I will say the queue for the carts was up to an hour wait which seems extortionate to me. Plus the horses looked so tired! If you’re able bodied and feel up to the task then I definitely recommend walking as the views on the way up are breathtaking. You also feel a great sense of achievement once you’ve made it all the way to the top, or at least I did because I’m very lazy.

Once you’ve arrived at the castle make sure you leave plenty of time to explore the grounds as there ‘s many different paths to explore. Each route offers spectacular views of the Bavarian alps and different perspectives of the castle.

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Christmas in London

Another day another Christmas post! It only feels like 5 minutes ago it was July and I was in Marrakech soaking up the sun but nope here we are discussing the C word again. The past few years me and my sister try and spend every weekend in December at some sort of Christmas market, event or light show. Last year we went to Blenheim Palace illuminated light trail and Christmas market which was amazing!

I’ve noticed this year they are holding Alice in the Palace which gives ticket holders the chance to explore the palace with a festive indoor trail. I realise this is a Christmas in London post and Blenheim Palace is in Oxford but I couldn’t help myself! Lets look at some of the exciting things happening in London this festive season…

  1. Friends Festive – https://www.friendsfestive.co.uk/

Taking place in the Truman Brewery in Shoreditch this Friends themed event looks like it’ll be so much fun! Fans will be able to visit sets, ring Phoebe’s bell outside the mall, visit the Holiday Armadillo’s grotto (LOL) and this is my favourite bit..recreate the Thanksgiving floating heads scene.

Dates28 November to 21 December 2019
Opening hoursEveryday 11am to 10pm
Ticket prices £32 admission + £2.50 booking fee

2. Christmas at Kew is one of my favourite light trails! Me and my sister went in 2017 and it was such a cute evening, here are some of my photos from that night..

I would probably recommend only going to one light trail a year as I have found that there really isn’t too much difference in the trails and lights that are on offer!

Dates20 November 2019 to 5 January 2020
Opening hours5pm to 10pm
Ticket prices Adult from £18, Family from £52, Child 4-16 from £11, Under 4s free.

3. If ice skating is your thing then London is where you’re going to want to spend Christmas, there are so many to choose from!

4. Hogwarts in the Snow, if you’re a Harry Potter fan you won’t want to miss the festive makeover at Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter! The Great Hall will be lined with Christmas trees, the dining tables will be dressed as if you were having a seasonal feast at Hogwarts and the stage will be decorated the same way it was seen at the Yule Ball!

Dates16 November 2019 to 26 January 2020
Tickets2019 & 2020 prices available here

5. Christmas shopping in Oxford Street. There’s something so magical about Oxford Street during the festive period, I think the beautiful Christmas lights and window decorations make the crowds a lot more bearable! Don’t just limit yourself to Oxford Street, head to Regent Street, Carnaby Street and definitely get over to Covent Garden. I would suggest heading out to shop as early as you can to (attempt to) beat the crowds!

6. Enchanted Eltham Palace another illuminating light trail! Taking place in the once Tudor royal residence which has since been transformed into an Art Deco mansion tickets are surprisingly affordable… Me and my sister have decided to go on 7 December 2019. See you there!

Dates5 December to 22 December 2019
Opening times4.30pm to 9pm
Tickets Two tier ticket prices, see here for more information

7. Southbank Centre Winter Festival feel festive along the Thames with a Christmas market and seasonal food and drink. I went to the Southbank’s Christmas market a few years ago and whilst it was good fun I would suggest it isn’t somewhere you could spend the whole day. I would suggest popping in, especially if you’re coming into London vis Waterloo, before heading to one of the many Christmas events going on in the capital.

8. It’s impossible to talk about Christmas in London without mentioning Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. I’m fairly certain everyone and their mum has been to Winter Wonderland or at least have heard of it! Much like the Southbank Centre Winter Festival I wouldn’t suggest going to Winter Wonderland for the whole day, head over to Hyde Park in the evening when you can experience the Bavarian beer garden and lights by night!

9. I’ve already mentioned Hampton Court Palace with the ice rinks but last year I went to the Festive Fayre and there was lots to do, a champagne bar and loads of tasty food to try. If you’re into history this is a great palace to visit as it was the home of Henry VIII and we all know what a character he was!

If you’re local to Hampshire you may want to check out my post about the events taking place across the county for Christmas 2019.

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Lakeside in Romania

In August 2018 I went on one of my favourite holidays, a lakeside stay in Romania. We flew into Cluj Napoca and drove down to Bistrita to our lodge which sat on Lac Colibita. We spent 2 weeks in the sun, dipping in and out of the lake and just look that view!

Despite how pretty the view was we didn’t spend the whole time by the lake. We visited Salina Turda salt mine and went to Baile Figa water park. The salt mine was quite interesting, it took forever to walk down all of the steps to get into the mine. Once we made it to the bottom there was a small fun fair and activities like golf. It was quite cute but I’m not sure if it was worth the journey and the length of time it took to get into the mine. My calves were killing going back up all of those steps to see the light of day again!

The water park was my favourite trip we went on whilst in Romania and I would highly recommend it. Nestled in the hills Balla Figa doubles as an outdoor spa with a mud pool, salt water pool and a number of hot and cold pools to choose from. The water park had a good mix of activities for families and adults so if you’re travelling with children there’ll be plenty for all to do. This is the lazy river, a staple of any good water park :’)

I’m really hoping more people start visiting Romania as it is such a beautiful country and there is so much more to it than Bucharest!