Mulled Wine Ingredients

Living with a Chef certainly has its perks, especially when he offers to cook a delicious Christmas roast with all the trimmings. My mouth is still watering.

As our contribution, Jessi came up with the idea for us to make mulled wine. An essential festive warmer this time of year. Want to know how to make this and try for yourself? Use our easy recipe below for how to make merry mulled wine.

You will need

  • 2x 750ml bottles of inexpensive red wine. We opted for Merlot
  • 1 litre of smooth orange juice (no pulp)
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • A pinch of cloves
  • Fresh oranges

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Pour a bottle of the red wine into a pot on a low heat. Make sure to not let it boil.

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Next add the orange juice.

Mulled Wine Stir

Add the cinnamon sticks, pinch of cloves and fresh orange slices. Be careful of red wine splashes.

Mulled Wine More Red Wine

Add the other bottle of red wine (it is Christmas after all). Keep stirring and don’t forget to not let it boil.

Mulled Wine Making

It smells delicious! Breathe in the spiced aroma.

Mind The Chef

Don’t forget to mind the Chef hard at work and stay out of his way!

Mulled Wine Serving

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Once heated, serve and add a slice of fresh orange to enjoy!

Christmas Roast Dinner

Serve with friends, festive spirit and delicious food. Christmas jumpers optional.

Photos courtesy of Jessi, Two Feet, One World.

Merry Christmas!

Bonj Les Bains Beach Club Hvar

To celebrate the first birthday of Need Another Holiday, fellow travel blogger Clare came up with a fun idea for a challenge, #Take12Trips. She is on a mission to take 12 trips – one per month – over the next 12 months and inspire others to join in with her.

Like me, Clare works full-time and travels part-time, making the most of annual leave, public holidays and weekends for exploring and jet setting.

Depending on your interests and budget, trips can be local or abroad. It’s about encouraging you to incorporate travel into your everyday life. To see somewhere new and try something different. It might be an international holiday, a day trip, or perhaps going somewhere in your own city. Big and small adventures count. Just enjoy yourself and take the time to plan things you love, but maybe never get around to.

My main purpose for living in London is to travel, so I try to get out of the city each month – there are just too many places I want to see in the world. 2013 has been a busy year with travel to Scotland, Devon, Prague, Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges and longer trips within Egypt, Croatia and Montenegro. Phew!

Deciding to take part from October when I discovered Clare’s challenge, my 12 trips so far have been:

October

25th of April Bridge Lisbon Portugal

October I enjoyed some sun and Sangria in Portugal where Jessi of Two Feet, One World and I visited Lisbon, Sintra and Cascais.

November

The Roman Baths_Bath

November was a day trip to picturesque Bath and this week I am off to Eastern Europe – Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic – for a white Christmas and to celebrate the welcoming of 2014!

Excited to see what trips the coming months bring. Nothing is booked, or planned… yet.

Set a goal for yourself, or make it your New Years resolution to do a trip, or try something new each month for the next 12 months. Remember to tag #Take12Trips so we can follow each other’s adventures.

For more inspiration and ideas, check out some of the other travel addicts taking part; Two Feet, One World, Kooky Traveller, Glamour In The Country, On The Luce, The Travelbunny and Mummy Travels.

Start exploring,

Queen Mary 2

As Christmas quickly approaches, I have been reminiscing about my Transatlantic crossing on board Curnard’s magnificent Queen Mary 2 this time last year. Thanks to a last minute deal with Iglu Cruise, I was bound for America to tick off a long time dream of mine – to spend Christmas in New York.

It wasn’t until after booking that I realised how elegant the Queen Mary 2 is and what a treat I was in for. She’s the largest, longest, widest, tallest and most expensive passenger liner in history. And she has an enforced dress code each evening – formal, semi-formal, or elegant casual – including a couple of theme nights which included a Black and White Ball and a Royal Ascot Ball this particular voyage.

Uh-oh. Wardrobes were quickly re-evaluated. Backpacking through South East Asia for three months en-route to London did not grant room for any luxury items, let alone clothing that would fit the required dress standards. Heels, an evening dress and even a tux (for Mike) were smartly purchased.

Arriving in Southampton at the QEII terminal on departure day, I stood and watched the concierge take luggage from passengers. As Louis Vuitton trunks and hatboxes piled high were loaded it felt like being transported back in time waiting to board the Titanic (which had also docked nearby in its time). There was definitely an excited buzz amongst passengers as we all waited to embark.

Queen Mary 2 Balcony Room

Queen Mary 2 Champagne

Opening the door to our beautiful balcony room, I knew I was going to be more than happy for the coming week. A bottle of champagne was even on ice to celebrate being on board and kick start the holiday.

Queen Mary 2 Christmas Tree

Queen Mary 2 Grand Lobby

Already a Christmas lover, being on the Queen Mary 2 during the festive season made the whole experience more magical with Christmas trees and decorations throughout the liner.

The fantastic thing about being on a cruise – everything is included (apart from drinks, tips and the casino), so you never need to carry cash. What isn’t included can easily be charged to your room, so it takes a lot of stress out of the holiday.

QM2 Brittania Restaurant

Between the several restaurants and room service, delicious food is available 24/7. The quality and selection is amazing and caters to everyone’s tastes and eating requirements. We ate A LOT including 3-course lunches.

Don’t try, or expect to go on a cruise and lose weight. Enjoy the cuisine.

Theatre and Planetarium

Show

Queen Mary 2 Queens Room

When we wanted to have a break from eating, we were spoilt for choice with other activities, tournaments and things to do – the days usually weren’t long enough to fit everything in. There was also a gym, running track, movie theatre, planetarium, golf simulator, casino, library, indoor and outdoor pools, shops, galleries and tennis courts.

If that didn’t fill the day, there were fitness classes, lectures, workshops, evening shows, live music, cocktail hours with the Captain and 14 bars and lounges to choose from. No matter your age, or interests there is something for everyone on board. Boredom is never an issue.

Mike’s favourite – The Churchill’s Cigar Bar for pre-dinner cigars and whiskey. My favourite – spending several hours in the spa getting pampered with a massage and enjoying all the relaxing spa facilities.

QM2 G32

There was also a nightclub, G32…

QM2 G32 Guest DJ

…Where I gave DJ-ing a go.

Another great thing being Westbound – clocks were wound back an hour on five of the seven nights so passengers were already adjusted to the time zone difference on arrival. This meant getting an extra hours sleep, or an extra hour of dancing in G32. The Captain also announced as we passed near the resting place of the Titanic.

QM2 Queens Room

QM2 Queens Room Tea Service

QM2 Afternoon Tea

Back to the food… Every day at 3.30pm there was a white glove afternoon tea service in the Queens Room where a selection of sandwiches, scones, cakes and tea were available. It was a very popular indulgence with passengers who queued some time before the doors were opened.

Manhattan Skyline

Arriving into New York by ocean liner was pretty special. Passengers were up on deck from 4.30am in the dark to watch the city’s famous skyline and Statue of Liberty come into view. Everyone held their breath as we passed under the Verrazano suspension bridge with only a few feet clearance above the funnel (guess the Captain has done it once or twice before though).

New York Skyline

It was a bit cold…

QM2 Brooklyn Cruise Terminal

The whole cruise experience was amazing – the staff were helpful and friendly, the service exceptional, food was top quality and delicious, plus the range of entertainment and activities was excellent. To top it off we met some wonderful people who we are still in contact with now.

After disembarking at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, I took one last look at the magnificent beauty and said goodbye just as it began to snow. Christmas cruising on Queen Mary 2. What a welcome to Christmas in New York!

Get cruising,

Snorkelling in Vietnam

Some opportunities come about just once in a lifetime; especially those that make you feel giddy with excitement like going on a first date. When they appear, take that leap and go for it. Embrace the new challenge and put yourself out there.

I had a dream that I was travelling and taking part in exciting new opportunities, representing a brand I love while living spontaneously AND it was all being paid for.

STOP THE PRESS!

It wasn’t a dream. Lastminute.com are ACTUALLY looking for a spontaneity champion and are funding up to £50k for a year of spontaneous travel and experiences to one deserving aspirant.

Passionate about travel? Tick… Spontaneous? Tick… Love trying new things? Tick! Sign me up.

There was one minor detail of having to put together a video as part of the entry. It wasn’t an area of expertise for me (aka had never put together a video before), but I wasn’t going to let that stand in my way. I spent all weekend watching YouTube tutorials and shooting videos around London (with the assistance of my fabulous accomplice Mike, who even forfeited watching the All Blacks vs Ireland rugby game to help me).

It was a fun new challenge. Not only did I enjoy putting it together, but it also got me to be a tourist in my own city and look at places I have been before differently.

The Final Product

Let me know what you think of my video entry in the comments. I will be keeping my fingers crossed for when the semi-finalists are announced on 6 December. Such an incredible opportunity that aligns perfectly with my goals and loves in life.

I love nothing more than travelling somewhere on a whim and being spontaneous. I enjoy the mystery, the thrill of the unknown, being flexible and the excitement that feeling free brings.

A Past Spontaneous Getaway

One Friday afternoon I called a best friend of mine (who lived in a different part of New Zealand) to ask if she wanted to go to Sydney, Australia the following day with me for the weekend.

She thought I was a bit crazy, hung up, then called me back a couple of hours later and agreed. We booked and less than 12 hours later – including a three hour international flight – we met in Sydney for a fun, spontaneous getaway.

Sometimes the best plans are the ones that are unplanned.

Embracing spontaneity,

Sticker on post

On a recent Saturday morning in East London a group of enthusiastic bloggers and creatives eagerly met (most for the first time) to take part in The Photo Hunt – a photography/social media scavenger hunt initiative organised by Che, Lulu and Bobbi. Their aim – to provide an interactive event for bloggers, photographers and creatives to engage and connect in a fun and inspiring environment.

Earlier in the week we had been pre-assigned to our teams and introduced by email. Great for those feeling a bit nervous about going to an event on their own and it meant we could be familiar with (aka stalk) each others blogs before meeting on the day.

The Pink Cupcakes

Team names were drawn at random and our teammate trio of Jessi, Sarah and myself became femininely named Pink Cupcakes.

Being briefed

Team off

Mobile phone

After being briefed, all the teams were off and the social media frenzy around Shoreditch and Brick Lane began. Instagrams, tweets and hashtags were loaded en masse as teams competed for sponsored spot prizes and winner bragging rights.

The Photo Hunt Challenges

Graffitti

The Photo Hunt Hiding

Teams had two and a half hours to complete 50 tasks of different point values which included Shoreditch graffiti, a team pyramid, headstands, squishing into a phone box and a running race with a stranger.

There was no time to be shy while asking strangers for photos and to be included in our photo challenges. The toughest – getting a stranger to run a race with me! Perhaps they were afraid of being beaten by a girl…?

Group Photo

Back at our starting point – BOXPARK (a cool, innovative pop-up mall in Shoreditch), event sponsors Milk Tea & Pearl, FalafeLicious and Chobani kindly re-fueled the photo hunters while scores were tallied and prizes given. Much needed and most welcomed after all the running around while photo hunting.

Lulu Che Bobbi

A big thank you to Lulu, Che, and Bobbi for doing such a fantastic job organising The Photo Hunt and bringing like minded creatives together. Look forward to joining you at the next event.

Want to join in the fun? Get along to The Photo Hunt in London on March 1, 2014. Not only will you get to meet and network with other bloggers offline, you will have a lot of laughs. Hope to see you there.

Photo credits: The Photo Hunt (2,9) Berry Diaries (1,4), Today, I’m Bobbi. (3,5,10), Midnight Rambler (7), Two Feet, One World (8)

Join the hunt,