Tag Archives: holidays

Christmassy?

7 years ago, back when I used to write a lot of poems, I wrote the below. It still makes a lot of sense to me… How do you feel about this time of the year?

Winter weather Nov 30thChristmas is near –
Some hold it dear
Others regret it
They can’t bare it.

Celebrations
are on their way,
Finances
go down the drain.

Everyone spending
Everyone drinking
either out of pleasure
or depression.

Christmas spirit
I can’t feel it,
Where did it go?
Not there anymore.

All it is to me
Is holidays and booze
I should let it be,
How about you?

2009.12.23

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Save Some Bucks This Christmas By Getting These Things Ready Now

We all know that Christmas has the potential to be an extremely expensive time of year. After all, there is a lot that you need to buy for it! From food and presents to decorations and greeting cards. But you don’t have to let the festive season be a drain on your bank account. In fact, if you start preparing now, you will find that you could end up saving a few books. That’s all because you’ll be buying out of season. We’re now in the run-up to Halloween and Thanksgiving. Stores are now focusing on selling all their Halloween and Thanksgiving products; you will find that Christmas stuff is still quite cheap.

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So what should you focus on getting ready now before the season starts? Here are some of my best ideas.

Christmas Presents

Ideally, you should look for Christmas presents for your friends and family all year round. There is no point waiting until December to do all your Christmas shopping. The stores will hike up their prices then so that they can make some extra cash before the holidays. So if you see something that you think might be suitable for a relative earlier on in the year, buy it! It doesn’t matter that you will have to wait a few months to give it to them. Just keep it in a cupboard or drawer where the recipient won’t be able to find it. If you do leave your Christmas shopping till later on in the year, it might be worth doing it online. Generally speaking, online shopping is a lot cheaper than going to a store. Looking for the perfect gift for your mom? You’ll be able to find unique gifts for her from Cuckooland.com.

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Food And Drink

Now is the best time to start thinking about the feast you will be having on Christmas day! If you have a big freezer, you will be able to buy quite a bit of the fresh food now and freeze it. Even your turkey! Try and buy your turkey within the next few weeks. Otherwise, you could end up paying quite a bit for it once we are into Thanksgiving season. Don’t worry that the one you buy now isn’t specifically a Christmas turkey. The only difference between a Christmas one and the ones you can buy all year is the packaging! And why pay more for a turkey that is covered in a festive wrapper? Buy all the dried and tinned foods that you need now as well. These will keep in your store cupboard. However, you can’t buy your fresh fruit and vegetables too far in advance. You will have to wait and get them a week or so before the big day.

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Greetings Cards

Most stores that sell greeting cards will have some Christmas cards on sale all year round. You probably haven’t noticed this before because you haven’t looked hard enough! As they aren’t in demand outside of December, they won’t be placed in a noticeable place. So next time you go shopping, have a long, hard look for the Christmas cards. If you buy them now, you will make a significant saving. One thing to bear in mind, though, is that there might not be a great selection just yet. If you don’t like what you see and want to wait till there is more choice, there is another way of saving some cash. You just need to buy in bulk in December. Sure, you will have more cards than you need, but they will last you for a couple more years!

Christmas Decorations

There may not be many decorations in the stores just yet. However, you might start to see some in large supermarkets such as Walmart. The supermarkets tend to display a small portion of their stock during fall to start selling as soon as possible. If you look now, you might notice that there are a couple of discounts and deals advertised. Buy them now before all those savings disappear in December! But, do you want to know the best way to make a huge saving on your Christmas decorations? You can make your own! This isn’t as difficult as it may sound. You will find plenty of guides and how-tos online on sites such as goodhousekeeping.com. There is, of course, another way to save some bucks on your Christmas decorations. And that is just to recycle them and use the same ones every year. If you do this, it is a good idea to check yours now to make sure they are still in good condition. If they aren’t, you then have plenty of time to make or buy some new ones. That way, there is no chance of the kids getting upset when they find all their Christmas decorations are broken!

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Plan Christmas Parties

You will no doubt be having an office party with work at Christmas. And many families and groups of friends also enjoy meals together in restaurants over the festive period. If you are planning any big celebrations such as these, it is a good idea to get everything booked now. The earlier, the better! That is because many restaurants and function rooms offer early bird deals. It’s just like the saying, the early bird catches the worm. Wait too long, and you will end up paying full price. However, book now and you could find that you can take advantage of deals and price cuts.

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Clothes

Are you looking for the perfect outfit to wear to all your Christmas parties? Maybe you want a cute dress for Christmas day? Now is the time to buy your festive wardrobe! It’s true that more glitzy stuff will come into the stores in November. However, this can be quite expensive. It’s a good idea to buy something from fashion stores’ fall and winter collections that are out now. You can always add some sparkle with some cool accessories!

Dreading an expensive Christmas? Not this year!

I am going through changes…

Five more days, until I say goodbye to Betsson.
Yes, you heard things right.
I am leaving Betsson Group. 

After almost 4 years, I have decided to move on to a new challenge, to a job which will hopefully take me where I want to be. For years, I’ve expressed my unheard wishes, so I decided to take my future in my own hands, sort it out myself.

With a grunt, I shall leave behind, the company I have worked for the longest, and some of the best colleagues I ever had the pleasure to work with. Truth be told, all my closest work mates bar one, have moved on to another job role before me, so I am not too displeased with my current situation. Besides, friends should find a way to communicate and to meet up, so let’s see the outcome of this little experiment 🙂

So what will happen of me, and of SteffiSays?

I will be taking a much needed 4 weeks off, out of which, I will spend 1 week in North Wales and 2 weeks travelling (Roadtripping, baby!). Right after, I will do some house maintenance, and will start working in my new job in the fourth week of September. SteffiSays will stay, there’s no way I will abandon my personal blog which has served me so well in the past 2 years!

Excited?
Hell yes! 

Although for the time being I will not say much about my new job, I am ecstatic for this opportunity, and for a company to believe in me and see my potential. I believe that in my new role I will be able to make a lot of changes and positive differences to drive the company in the right direction and to the next level. So, CHEERS!

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Hobbies To Take Up As Summer Is Approaching

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The clocks have officially gone back! It’s no longer pitch-black at 6 pm. That’s right folks; spring is here. And what does that mean? Summer is just around the corner! Hurrah!

There is a still a little time, though. So how to make the most of it? Here are three hobbies to consider taking up as summer approaches.

Baking

Whether you’re slightly addicted to Masterchef and The Great British Bake Off or not, baking is a great hobby. Sure, buying all the ingredients can be quite costly at first. But actually, once you’ve built up a collection of the basics, you’ll save money on buying the products fresh. A bag of self-raising flour, for example, will be good for at least a handful of bakes.

Baking is also a great hobby for people with strict dietary requirements. It can be a real challenge to find products that are wheat-free or dairy-free. Plus, they tend to be pretty rammed with sugars and sweeteners. By making your own, you are in control of what does and doesn’t go in them. You can also make recipes just the way you like. You can make amazing brownies without pecan nuts if you don’t like them. Or make a triple chocolate cake with whipped cream in the centre; the world is your oyster. You can really let your creative juice flow.

Need some ideas? Facebook groups like Delish post different inspiring recipes every day, both for baking and cooking.

Photography

The days are getting longer, and nature is looking beautiful again. Capture the magic by taking up photography. You can focus on any genre you like, be it people, wildlife, landscape or cityscapes. Or just snap whatever takes your fancy from day to day.

Photography is one of those hobbies that can be as versatile as you like. If you like fast-paced environments, take shots of shoppers, or runners, or sunsets. Or, if you want to take it a bit steadier, go for landscape or nighttime shoots.

Don’t just use your phone either. The pixels might be high, but the quality just won’t match up. Invest in a good quality camera, and a sturdy Camera Bag to keep your purchase safe.

Getting fit

We expect way too much of ourselves when we sign up for gym memberships on New Year’s Day. Yes, the deal they’re offering is great but it is such a good price for a reason. Because hardly anybody then goes. The days are short; the nights are long and there is still loads of leftover chocolate in the cupboard…

Early spring, however, is a far more sensible time to join. Looking at summer holidays gives you some real motivation. Plus, you’ll find going to the gym after work far more appealing. Or, if you don’t want to join a gym, spring and summer weather and light lets you get fit outdoors. Go for a run in your local park. Take the dog with you. If you have one, that is. Don’t just take a random stranger’s dog…

 

Travelling Blues

Those moments when your brain and TripAdvisor are on a mutual plot to have you travel to Wales again.

Here are some of TripAdvisor’s personalised newsletters I received in the last couple of days:

– Email #1

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– Email #2

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– Email #3

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Is it just a coincidence, or is it time to get planning again?

Money… Please?

Flint Castle

During my last visit to North Wales in November, my boyfriend who knows how much I adore castles took me to Flint Castle. I did see some photos of the castle before we made way to it, but as soon as I saw the castle up on a green grassed hill, I realised that the photos didn’t do it justice. Although not massive in size, the location and the atmosphere was amazing. The fact that we were the only two people on its grounds made it even more special.

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A little bit of history

The castle has been erect for over 700 years now. In fact the building work began in the year 1277 and was finalised in 1284. It took 1,800 workers and masons to built the foundations and the castle itself. This castle was the first castles to be built after King Edward I invaded Wales. The design of the castle is a mix of Gothic architecture of the Medieval era together with the design of a Concentric castle – making it stronger, bigger and more luxurious than most castles built during the same time. Flint Castle’s unique fortress design was not repeated in any other castle, and as such the layout at Flint remains unique throughout the British Isles.

One important feature of flint Castle is its access to the sea. This not only speeded up construction due to the ability of transporting equipment and building materials by boats, but also helped in the success of the new fortified town which was built around the same time as the castle. This ensured that the town had fresh food supplies and provisions which prevented its occupants from starving to death during the siege warfare.


The castle is located on the North-East coast of Wales, which gives a magnificent view of the shore and Liverpool in the distance.

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Interesting facts

– In 1399 Richard II of England was held by Henry Bolingbroke at Flint Castle before returning to London
– During the English Civil Wars which started in 1642, the castle was held by the Royalists. After a 3 month siege it was then captured by the Parliamentarians in 1647. In order to prevent the castle to be used again in a conflict, the castle was set for destruction. It is because of this, that what remains today is ruins.
– Today, the castle is maintained by CADW which is the Welsh government body that conserved and promotes the building heritage of Wales. The castle can be accessed by the public for free.
– In summer 2009 the castle was temporarily closed due to anti-social behaviour as teenagers were drinking and vandalising the castle. It reopened after CADW liaised with police to improve security at the castle.

London Tea Exchange Review

I have always had a strong bond with tea, but always preferred teabags over loose tea leaves just because it is so much easier to make tea.  But when I opened my mind towards loose tea leaves, I realised how many more options I have at hand, and how much I can experiment with various flavours, even making my own flavour.

During my loose tea leaves discovery, I was in London, and this is where I came across London Tea Exchange. Right next to the tea shop door, there were various teas one could sample. And so I did…

Entering the shop was like I was in heaven. Everywhere I look, it was tea and more tea… Over a hundred choices, and I couldn’t be more excited.. and confused.

It was hard to just choose just the one flavour, but since I never had chocolate or coconut flavoured tea, I thought that I should opt for a black tea… with these two flavours. May I say that…. It is magnificent?

The tea was given in a golden packaging which made it safely from London to Malta.

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The tea itself looks something like the below… Although not cheap, it is very tasty and makes me feel all warm and tingly inside….

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When in London, I’d suggest you give this shop a try, if like me, you are a massive tea lover 😉

The Art of Travel

I would say, that I am at my best, when I travel.

At those moments when I am traveling, I do not care of what the weather holds, rain or shine, I’m ready to have an early start of the day and get exploring. Of course, I would most likely explore, what I had been planning for days or weeks on end, before the holiday kicked in.

Which brings me to the most fun traveling factor: Being a planner, I usually take the lead on all things which could be planned, such as events to go to, places to visits and how to get there. Before every vacation, I make sure I have a booklet featuring all the above, including maps, expenses involved and opening hours.

Living and traveling overseas, has matured me so much, in the sense that, every time I travel, I go to a place which I have never been before, which would mean, that I need to be mentally ready to “get lost” and also to “ask around for help”. Those who know me well know, that I am most of the time too stubborn to ask for help or advise, as I would rather be on top of things myself. If I figure it out myself, I’m better off. However given the experiences I had in the past, traveling alone or with a friend, sometimes you just have to take the easy way out and ask… especially when you are running out of time or late to a do!

Traveling has not only matured me, but opened my mind to different cultures and people behaviour. I have learned and experienced a lot of history. I have curiously watched people going around towns and cities and in my mind, I would think of what it would be like being in their shoes. It is a little game I like to play, especially when I’m on a train or waiting to catch a bus. Sometimes, I’d be lucky enough to get into a discussion with local people around me, which helps me understand more the surroundings and why people behave in a certain way.

If traveling is a hobby, then I dare say that it is the greatest hobby of all. No other pastime can be compared in my opinion, as what you do while on vacation will be instilled in your mind, body and soul for the rest of your life. It is something you’d think about, and smile about.

I can’t wait to get planning on my next proper vacation… I see Poland and Germany on the horizon… It is a matter, of making a dream come true… Maybe in 2016? 🙂

The Return

Trying to explain how I feel, after I returned back home from a 5-day-long holiday, is near impossible. Although gutted that it’s all over, after waiting for this moment for a good month and a half, my heart feels happy and rather at ease.

In Brief

If you are wondering, where I have been,  the answer is of no surprise to those who know me well, as I have yet again chose to visit my beloved Wales. After being in the South of Wales June/July this year, this time I was back in the North. I have visited the area of Flintshire, which I have never been to before, coupled with Chester (no, this is not in Wales, but it is very close by).

Even before I went on holiday, I wished that in my short stay, I get to see snow again. I did get lucky in this, as not only did it snow, but it did stick to some of the hills we went to (the idea was to go for a walk, but this turned out to be rather of a flop as it was too sloppy). The sight itself, was breathtaking, which made me very happy still.

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While in Chester, we did manage to come across the Christmas Market which was a pleasant surprise! Over there, we ended up spending £20 in cheese… but it was damn worth it… as it tastes godly. The Roman baths and amphitheater were two historic spots we visited while here. On the same day, in the evening we returned to Chester for a rock night and it turned out to be an awesome night; music varied from classic rock to heavy metal which means I was in heaven!

Castles are always part of the plan when I am on holiday. The idea was to visit Ewloe Castle but the area was closed in order to enhance the pathway leading to it. But luckily my fantastic tour-guide improvised and we instead visited Flint Castle. This Castle is in ruins, and from it you are able to see Liverpool in the distance, which was quite a beautiful view.

PS. More info and actual pictures of the places I have visited will be coming up as soon as I write up the related reviews. X

 

Doctor Who Experience

It has been an awful long time since I wrote something on here… and I am blaming life and lack of inspiration on this. I have been finding it extremely difficult to find time to focus and write something interesting. More so, because in my free time I try to relax a bit, edit a few photos from my holidays in June and July or watch TV Series.

So, I thought, I should review one of the places I have been to while in Cardiff. Let’s start with the Doctor Who Experience… because, why the hell not? 🙂

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We made our way to the Doctor Who Experience on the first day of the holiday. Actually, it was oudw1r first activity after we checked into our hotel. We were staying in Cardiff Bay, so you would think that it was straightforward to locate the BBC venue. Truth be told, we were slightly distracted with the amazing views of the bay and the surrounding, and it took us longer than expected to get there.

But once we did, I had a huge grin on my face. I couldn’t believe I have finally made it… It has been five years since I made up my mind that I should visit this place! We had already purchased our tickets online, so we simply waited for our time-slot and off we went in. The first half of the experience was very interactive and fun. It was the best part of it, in my opinion, however we were not allowed to take photos or videos as not to spoil this for other visitors. Granted, it made sense… but I wish I have captured that moment when I walked in the Weeping Angel’s cemetery or when I flew the Tardis.

Some photos taken outside and around the museum:

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I would definitely return here eventually and would recommend it to all Whovians out there! 🙂