Which is the best town to visit in Lake Garda, Italy?

Lake Garda and its surrounding villages were some of the places we had the pleasure to visit on our recent holiday to Italy. If I could quickly summarise what we were doing there, I would say that we ate tons of gelato and were simply living La Dolce Vita, all while enjoying the sunshine. In this blog post, you’ll see photos from Bardolino and Sermione – adorable places located near to the biggest lake in Italy – Lago di Garda.

Sirmione, Lake Garda. Italy.
It’s hard to believe it’s a lake, not the sea, with its turquoise water.

Lake Garda is a popular holiday destination in the northern part of Italy mainly because of the picturesque scenery (the lake is surrounded by mountains), lovely cafés and restaurants, and also the possibility of using the lake for water sports. Most of the tourists are from Germany and Switzerland and German is the language which I mostly heard on the streets. If you are going to the east side of Lake Garda, I recommend going to Bardolino and the ancient fortified town of Sirmione. Obviously I cannot be an expert, as I haven’t visited all the towns around Lake Garda, but these two are really worth visiting!

Coulourful boats in Bardolino, Lake Garda, Italy
The colourful harbour and boats in Bardolino, Lake Garda, Italy. The yellow boat is callled Maddalena which is similar to my name. I wish I could have a boat with my name on it in Bournemouth!
How would you name your boat if you had one?
Traditional Italian Gelato. Italian ice cream. Lake Garda, Italy
Traditional Italian gelato is the ultimate winner. Pistachio is one of my favourite flavours.
Italian ice cream. Lake Garda, Italy.
Unfortunately I don’t remember the flavour of these two scoops, but I remember they were mouthwatering!

Bardolino was the first town we visited. It has a wine museum and winery where you can see the history of wine-making by the Zeni family. They’ve been running the business for a century! There is also a free wine-tasting opportunity and the possibility to buy some home-made wine or prosecco. Zeni family members who work there can professionally advise you on what type of wine will suit your taste buds.

You can also visit the Zeni’s basement, which contains hundreds of barrels of wine and beautiful paintings. The mysterious atmosphere of the place will transport you into another world. You can also eat some Italian antipasti there while drinking wine from the family’s collection.

Bardolino, wine museum. Zeni's family.
Walking amongst barrels of wine.
Bardolino, wine museum. Zeni's family.
Speechless about this set-up!

Let’s move to Sirmione, the second town we visited, which is located on the south side of Lake Garda. It has two major historical landmarks: the remains of a Roman villa from the 1st century – the Grottoes of Catullus – and a medieval port fortification – Scagilero Castle – from the 13th century. I do not want to include too many historical details about these places, so if you wish to read more about them just click on the links to find out more. But I hope my photos below will give you an impression of how beautiful Sirmione is.

Lake Garda, Sirmione. Italy
The turquoise water simply tempts you to dive in…
Sirmione, Lake Garda. Italy
If you search for some information about Sirmione on the internet, a picture of this house always pops up…it is simply very photogenic.
Sirmione, Lake Garda. Italy. Italian gelato.
I ate tons of gelato! This was mango and raspberry flavour to refresh myself from the heat.
Isn’t it great how we can capture moments that happen in nature within milliseconds on a camera?
Sirmione, Lake Garda. Italy
A swan, turquoise water and a happy me 🙂
Sirmione, Lake Garda. Italy.
One of the restaurants with the views of the Lake. Beautiful in its simplicity .
This dog was watching passersby from a window which looks a bit like a prison…he looks so sad but sweet at the same time.
Handmade Italian dishes. I really regret that I didn’t buy one for pizza!
Sirmione, Lake Garda. Italy

The map below shows how big Lake Garda is. You have a large choice when deciding where to stay! I am sure each town is unique and can offer something different, but one thing they will always have in common is the beautiful lake and surrounding mountains which will leave you speechless and tranquil. I suggest visiting Bardolino and Sirmione, but I am sure you won’t regret going to any of these places.

Lake Garda's map

What to visit in Cornwall? Part 2: Port Issac and St. Ives

In my previous post about Cornwall, which you can find here, I described what to do in Padstow. This post will be devoted to a small fishing village called Port Issac and a beautiful town with turquoise water – St. Ives.

We spent only a couple of hours in Port Issac, so I cannot pretend to be an expert in what to do or visit there. But believe me, just a short period of time in this adorable place was enough to make me fall in love with it. Coastal views, tiny alleys, family-run shops and the omnipresent nautical atmosphere – what’s not to love there? Well, just be careful if you’re planning to drive through the alleyways. They’re so narrow, your car will barely fit!

Low tide in Port Issac's Harbour
Low tide in Port Issac’s harbour.
Port Issac
‘Port Isaac Harbour was a busy coastal port from the Middle Ages to the mid 19th century. Cargoes like stone, coal, timber and pottery were loaded and unloaded there.’ Source here.

One thing I will always clearly remember from Port Issac is the Cream Tea, which I can honestly say was the best one I have ever eaten. The freshly baked scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, served with tea and milk, tasted just heavenly!

Which should go first on the scones – jam or clotted cream? The Queen puts clotted cream on first, but Cornish people eat it with strawberry jam as the first topping. Rebellious souls!
The Krab Pot is a family run café where we had the delicious scones. Unfortunately, I did not try their crab sandwiches, but I assume they are delicious. It’s got excellent reviews on TripAdvisor and a big yes from me as well!
The names of some of the cottages in Port Issac are very marine. Would you like your house to be called Little Dolphins?

As I said before, we spent only a little time in the peaceful and quiet Port Issac, so I would now like to move on to St. Ives. Its atmosphere is completely different to Port Issac – it’s more lively and touristic, offering a variety of attractions like boat trips to Seal Island (which we sadly did not have time for) and contemporary art galleries like the Tate Modern. St. Ives will enchant you with its turquoise water, lovely harbour and tiny houses with cute nautical names like in Port Issac.

turquoise water in St Ives
Views from the harbour in St. Ives. What a colour!

We had a lovely stroll around St. Ives, had a close encounter with some angry seagulls, ate a big, home made, traditional Cornish Pasty (which was made in front of our eyes!) and I also finally tasted lobster for the first time in my life!

When we bought ice cream, the lady who sold them warned us to be careful of the seagulls, which are known for being little thieves. Looking at this one, one may think it wants to do some harm…
St Ives. A man preparing cornish pasties in front of the customers.
St. Ives. A baker preparing Cornish pasties in front of the customers.
An amazing restaurant with views of the harbour – Porthminster Kitchen. We ordered a full lobster and ate half each. It was the first one I’d ever had, so I was a bit worried about its flavour. You can see my full-of-doubts facial expression below…
To eat or not to eat? I ate it and I liked it. I wanted to try it, but I think it was the last time. Not because I didn’t like the taste, but knowing how long it takes for a lobster to grow to this size (approx. 5 years) and reading about these amazing animals at the Lobster Hatchery in Padstow made me realise we should not destroy their population by eating too many of them. Sustainability and balance is the key.

I could probably upload 100 more photos that I took in Cornwall, but as they say, less is more, and quality is always more valuable than quantity. So I will leave you with only a couple more photos to end this post.

the Harbour in St Ives
The view of the harbour in St. Ives.
St Ives Harbour - fishing boats
St. Ives harbour – fishing boats.
Beautiful beach in St Ives
St. Ives beach.

I hope I have encouraged you to visit Padstow, Port Issac and St. Ives, and I hope you’ll have more time to explore than I did. Unfortunately, one weekend was simply not enough!

What to visit in Cornwall? Part 1 – Padstow.

We only had two days to visit Cornwall which, as you can imagine, is very little time! Having such a limited time, we only focused on two small Cornish towns – Padstow and St. Ives. However, we also managed to take a short visit to a tiny, but picturesque, fishing village called Port Issac. I took so many photos in these three places that I have decided to split this blog post into two parts. Padstow first!

Harbour in Padstow, Cornwall
The Harbour in Padstow, Cornwall

Deliciously fresh fish, lobsters, crabs, Cornish pasties, beautiful sandy beaches and…Rick Stein’s ’empire’ are all things I will remember from our trip to Padstow. And that’s what you’re going to see in this blog post.

If you follow the South West Coast Path from the harbour, you will get to this beautiful spot…

The first thing you should do after arriving in Padstow is go to its tourist information centre. I found it very helpful as I was given a map which was circled with the best places to visit and things to do if you have only a little time. Since Padstow is famous for sandy beaches, the first thing we did was take a walk to the beach by following the South West Coast Path. Of course, I was not surprised to see beautiful scenery, but what shocked me was a graveyard of crabs scattered all over the beach. It was sad, but also quite fascinating as I had never seen crabs in the wild!

Dead crabs on the beach in Padstow

When it started to become cloudy and windy, we decided to go to the Lobster Hatchery, which is a must-visit place in Padstow. It is a charity, but also a research centre which helps to increase the falling number of European lobsters. The entrance fee is £4, but you know your money will go to a good cause. I found out many fascinating facts about these shellfish creatures, and saw the different stages of a lobster’s growth. The youngest were just three months old (the cutest things ever) and there was even one giant lobster which was about 60 years old!

Lobster's Hatchery, Padstow, Cornwall
Lobster Hatchery, Padstow, Cornwall. Captain Barnacles (that’s his name :P) weighs over 5 kg! His claws alone are around 2.5 kg!! He’s estimated to be 60 years old!!!

Another place worth paying a visit to is Padstow Museum, which is opposite the Lobster Hatchery. It’s free, but tiny, and you won’t spend more than 15 minutes there. Nevertheless, having a little read about the importance of the fishing and tourism industries for Padstow’s community was quite interesting.

Padstow Museum, Cornwall

Walking around the harbour area, you’ll definitely notice the omnipresent surname of a popular chef – Rick Stein. Padstow, apart from having plenty of local cafés, is literally dominated by Stein’s businesses. Stein’s fish and chips, Stein’s deli, Stein’s seafood eatery, Stein’s hotel, Stein’s restaurant, Stein’s patisserie, Stein’s shops with nautical souvenirs, Stein’s cookery school…you name it, and Stein will give it to you.

Stein’s home accessories are beautiful.

Rumour has it that the local community does not like Rick Stein. One of the reasons is that he’s bought so many properties in Padstow, making its property market really expensive. Moreover, he does not support the Lobster Hatchery. Other small local businesses do, so why not a rich man like him?! Just saying!

There are lots of stunning beach bays around Padstow which are easily accessible by car. Make sure you visit Booby’s Bay, Constantine’s Bay and my favourite one – spots around Trevose Head. I am sure my pictures will convince you that they are all beautiful.

Bays in Padstow, Cornwall
Bays in Padstow, Cornwall
Trevose Head, Padstow, Cornwall
Trevose Head, Padstow, Cornwall
Trevose Head, Padstow, Cornwall
Among the flowers on the cliffs 😉 Trevose Head, Cornwall – I took one billion pictures in this place
A pretty white lighthouse only adds to the beauty of this place
Mother Ivey's Bay
Mother Ivey’s Bay

Looking for a foodie’s paradise? Padstow is considered to be one! I swear to God, the sea bass I ate there was the most tender I’ve had in my entire life. The mussels in white wine were a real delicacy. If you are a seafood lover, you’ll be the happiest person on Earth in Padstow. Apart from the seafood, make sure you try traditional Cornish pasties as well as a Cornish Breakfast, which is very similar if not identical to English Breakfast.

Cornish Breakfast, Padstow, Cornwall
Cornish Breakfast, Padstow, Cornwall
Whole cooked lobsters in Rick'Stein's seafood eatery

Padstow enchanted me with its nautical atmosphere, delicious seafood, Lobster Hatchery (I didn’t know Lobsters could be such interesting creatures!), beautiful beach bays and the feeling of pride and independence you can see in its local people. The only thing I didn’t manage to visit was its famous Camel Trail, but it’s a good excuse to go back there one day. My next blog about the picturesque Cornish town of St. Ives and the fishing village of Port Issac is coming soon…

Am I flying?

Crafts and Giggles

As children, we have many opportunities to do crafts. But our fast-paced adult lives make it almost impossible to find a moment to focus on some more creative activities. I have always liked crafts, so when I got an invitation from Bournemouth Bloggers to attend a flower crown making event by Crafts and Giggles, I immediately said yes.

Crafts and Giggles is an independent company run by the adorable and talented Katie, who offers different kinds of craft workshops – you can see the selection of workshops here. She studied Art at Bournemouth University and is now providing her services at hen parties, birthdays, children’s parties and even corporate events. She mainly works in Dorset, but she also gets invited to other parts of England.

Katie in her workshop in Poole

Katie, who is also a blogger, taught us how to make flower crowns by using silk flowers, metal wires and self adhesive tape. Not only was it a creative activity, but also a mindful session which helped us to concentrate. In the era of the internet and being bombarded by too much information, being able to focus on one thing is priceless and necessary.

I chose white and pink flowers for my crown from tons of other colours provided by Katie. You can see some other colourful crowns created by Bournemouth Bloggers below.
As you can see, we enjoyed crown making a lot. Don’t we all look like mysterious nymphs? 😀 Emma, Maria, Lauren, me, Emma, Alice and Ciara (if you click on their names, you’ll be redirected to their fantastic blogs).
A ray of sunshine passing through a window in Katie’s office in Poole.
With Lauren from
http://www.laurenlovesblog.co.uk/

I would really recommend Crafts and Giggles to everyone who wants to have some fun while doing meaningful and creative activities. Even though we are Bournemouth Bloggers and usually use our phones all the time during events, this time we put down our phones for over one hour and immersed ourselves in the activity of flower crown making. I can only reassure you that your children will love it and so will adults.

A glamorous photo of Bournemouth bloggers in their flower crowns on the stairs.

A very green post.

If I were forced to choose only one colour of clothes to wear for the rest of my life it would probably be green – in particular khaki. I think it’s elegant and it also intensifies the colour of my eyes. I probably have too many khaki clothes! Green is obviously the predominant colour of nature, and while looking through the pictures of Bournemouth and the surrounding area I have taken over the last 3 months, I noticed that I’d captured beautiful shades of my favourite khaki on stones, pine trees, boats and others. In this blog post you’ll see those photos containing shades of green and read about the symbolism of this colour.

Seaweed covering big stones. Mudeford in Christchurch.

I know it’s a sweeping generalisation to say that certain colours evoke characteristic emotions in people, but according to the psychology of colours, our favourite shades may say a lot about our personalities. (Check your favourite colour here).

Mudeford in Christchurch. Swans and the edge of the water covered in seaweed
Pine trees in Poole.

The colours we choose for our bedrooms and living rooms can significantly influence our mood. Colours are also extremely important in marketing campaigns (see here). Green evokes a feeling of health, peace, calm and stability. Marketers use green in branding to emphasize that they are trustworthy and reliable.

Stones covered in seaweed at Sandbanks are a beautiful backdrop for photos. Green is the colour of stability and safety. I can describe myself as someone who does not like changes and is not so keen on getting out of her comfort zone. Is that why I love green so much?
The sunset hiding behind monstrous green stones. Mudeford, Christchurch.
Green juice at Wagamama. Mine was made from kale, apple and celery – which is considered to be a super food due to its healthy properties.
Seaweed covering an abandoned boat in Poole Harbour.
A pine tree and a cloudless blue sky. Poole.
Green is also the symbol of money, greed, ambition and jealousy. I tend to be overambitious and competitive, and my perfectionism drives me crazy. I also admit to being jealous at times (my look in this picture says it all)…but I prefer to say I am ‘passionate’ 😉
A view from our living room. I consider myself lucky to be waking up to this view of green pine trees and Meyrick Park.
Finally, a picture of the book Live Green by Jen Chillingsworth, which changed my everyday life and nasty habits into better, more environmentally friendly ones. It shows easy ways of living ‘green’ and feeling good about your everyday choices, from shopping to cleaning. My blog post about buying local and loose produce in Bournemouth greengrocers was written after reading this book. You can find it here.

If you were to choose only one colour, what would it be? Does the symbolism of your favourite colour match with your personality traits?

Greengrocers in Bournemouth – produce without plastic.

No, I’m not an environmentalist and no, I don’t want to preach in this blog post about the devastating consequences of omnipresent plastic waste. We all know it’s bad. But I do feel I have a moral responsibility to reduce my personal plastic usage. Buying fruit and veggies without plastic packaging at your local greengrocers is a simple way of cutting down on plastic. In this post, you’ll see photos of nude… fruit & veg 😉 from three greengrocers in Bournemouth: Sunrise Organics in the Triangle, Metro Market in Charminster and Roebridge Farm Shop in Winton.

Which carrots do you think look better – nude or wrapped? For me, nude is best! #chooseloose because you create good consumer habits.

I used to shop only at supermarkets, mainly Lidl and M&S, and each time while unpacking greens at home, I felt as if I was throwing away tons of plastic. I started visualising the bigger scale of the problem when I thought about every single household doing the same thing. According to a major study, “supermarkets are flooding Britain with 59 billion pieces of plastic packaging a year.” You can read the full article here.

Nude organic bananas from Sunrise Organic. Shopping locally has become really important to me.

While some supermarkets are slowly introducing positive changes, you’ll find more fruit and veggies without plastic at your local greengrocer or a market. We, the customers, create the demand, so let’s start shopping at local independent greengrocers and choosing loose!

Cabbages at Sunrise Organics.

My nearest greengrocer is called Sunrise Organics. They are a vegan health food store and have a philosophy of selling only organic products and have an environmentally-friendly policy of zero plastic. The staff are very helpful and will guide you through all the products that are available at the shop. You will find only basic fruit and veg at Sunrise Organics, but they are all organic. There are other fantastic products without plastic packaging there such as spices, pasta, nuts, and rice. Photos below.

Ginger, garlic, and turmeric. I didn’t know that turmeric roots looked like that. I only knew it as a yellowish powder, so it was nice to discover something new.
Squash is still in season! If you want to eat a nice sandwich with cashew nut cream cheese and mashed squash, go to the South Coast Roast Cafe 😉
No plastic packaging. Spices in glass jars!
You can put loose nuts in the paper bags provided at the shop, or buy reusable ones on the internet. I bought mine here.
My new discovery – black and brown rice bought at Sunrise Organics.

I might be crazy, but I simply adore looking at boxes filled with loose greens. The abundance of colours and shapes is astounding. The following veg comes from Roebridge Farm Shop in Winton, which sells fresh local produce. When you visit them, you feel as if you were surrounded by a rainbow. I have been there a couple of times, but my colleague shops there regularly and is very complimentary about their produce.

Back to your roots! #chooseloose
You can make a fantastic soup made from swede – recipe here.
A picture of my creamy swede soup – it really tastes fantastic!
Cauliflower is currently in season. #chooseloose
I know, I know – you can see some plastic, but it’s up to you what you select, so #chooseloose fruit & veg! Roebridge Farm Shop in Winton.

I also love shopping for greens at Metro Market in Charminster, especially since they have a variety of olives. Most fruit and veg in the Metro Market comes without plastic packaging. Yes!

Olives sold at Metro Market.
This funny vegetable is called fennel. It’s crunchy and gives nice texture when added to salads. What’s more, it looks a little bit like a human’s heart, doesn’t it? Will you put your heart and soul into making sure you #chooseloose?
Mandarin sunshine from Metro Market in Charminster.

I hope I have encouraged some of you to search for a greengrocer in your area and that I have convinced you to join my #chooseloose campaign. What are favourite greengrocers in Bournemouth? Do you think about choosing loose greens when you have an option?