Is Artificial Grass Killing Our Environment? 

Is Artificial grass killing our environment?

The growing trend for ripping up turf and replacing it with artificial grass is becoming endemic in the UK. But what impact do our humble back gardens have? Is the need for a hassle free synthetic lawn of artificial grass killing our Environment?

Artificial grass killing our environment
Image from Wikipedia CC BY-SA 2.0

Sharing our gardens with nature

Our natural wildlife in Britain is having the hardest times it has seen. Not only have our birds, insects and other wildlife had to deal with the loss of habitat due to urbanisation, intensive farming and climate change. We are now taking away the only urban green spaces where they used to thrive.

Did you know that one in 10 UK wildlife species now faces extinction? With the decline in urban home gardens providing amenable environments for bees, butterflies, hedgehogs and birds, their habitats are becoming few and far between. The honourable Sir David Attenborough said: “The natural world is in serious trouble and it needs our help as never before.” Wise words from a wise man.

We need to provide a welcoming outdoor space to keep our native British wildlife alive and well.  Is it so hard to share your garden with nature?

How do we bring the wildlife back?

Daisy, Flower Carpet, White, Flower, Blossom, Bloom Artificial grass killing our environment
Daisies in bloom

I sit and watch the blackbirds with my daughter as they pick out worms from the ground after rainfall.  We pick daisies that sprout from the lawn and watch the busy bees and butterflies as they fly from one flower to the next. Insects burrow and hide under the soil and ladybirds land amongst the blades of grass. But with an artificial lawn, we would lose all of this.

Bringing wildlife into your garden can be as simple as having a few flowering plants or an insect habitat. Build a bird table or put out a seed holder. But best of all, don’t pave, concrete or cover over the natural environment with unfriendly synthetic alternatives.

Want to make a difference? Here is the National Trusts advice to make your garden more wildlife friendly.  There’s lots of advice out there if you need it, but if you care about Brittish wildlife then you only need to make a few changes to ensure its survival.

What if you don’t have a garden?

Want to help the environment but don’t have a garden of your own? From having a windowsill flower garden to helping out at your local community allotment. You can make a small effort and have a big impact.

So is artificial grass killing our Environment?

My quite blunt verdict is to stick to natural grass, embrace the UK wildlife it attracts and get up off your ass and mow the lawn once in a while. It will actually get you out in the fresh air too!

But seriously the more we cover our natural world with concrete and plastic, the less natural spaces we will have for our future. For both us, and our children.

What are your views? Does it makes a difference or do you think that artificial grass is killing our environment, among other things! Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

Giants Causeway and the Coastal Road

Giants Causeway and the coastal road

I wanted to travel to Belfast to visit the Titanic museum as part of my Top 10 UK museums series. My husband suggested we should visit Giants Causeway and the coastal road there too.

So I booked our flights and apartment in Belfast. Then we hired a car and took a day trip to enjoy the Giants Causeway and the coastal road.  There are a few routes you can take but I decided to take an early drive and head straight to the causeway. Then take a scenic drive back along the coast.  I’ve never really hired a car whilst travelling before but it gave us a lot of freedom especially with an eight-month-old child in tow.

Driving and Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle - Giants Causeway and the coastal road

The drive there took around an hour and a half taking the M2 then the A26 to Ballymoney before diverting down Balleybogey Road to see Dunluce Castle.  An unplanned detour but well worth a stop and a visit for seeing the rugged cliffs and ruined castle grounds. If you take Dunluce road there is a viewpoint which offers great photo opportunities. See the castle from a unique perspective outlined along the cliffs.

Giants Causeway

Giants causeway and the coastal road

We parked at the visitor centre and bought tickets on arrival. Walking down to the causeway rather than taking the bus was a good idea. We had an amazing view of the bay and it built up the excitement seeing the rocks come into focus. It wasn’t easy underfoot walking on the hexagonal rocks. Nearer the water was a little slippy, but I managed. Even with a baby attached to me in a K’tan, I managed to climb to some great viewpoints!

It was quite windy and cold so we didn’t spend a great deal of time hiking the area. But we managed to experience the beautiful National Trust site.

Driving the Coastal Road

Giants Causeway and the coastal roadTo be honest we didn’t really visit during the right season so it was a bit quiet on the way back.  This didn’t distract from the spectacular views we got to see along the road.

Top Tip: research the places where you want to stop. We picked a point on the map en route only to find there was no town or village there at all.

We did stop at a village pub for a quick drink and were treated to some complimentary pancakes! People were friendly but I think it helps that we have a cute baby with us too.

No place stood out in particular along the route but we did pass some quaint houses, farms and lovely looking beaches.

Have you visited the Giants Causeway and the Coastal Road?

What do you think about visiting the Giants Causeway and the coastal road? Have you been before or is it on your bucket list? I think it is definitely worth a visit and driving means you have the freedom and flexibility to enjoy the area.




Planning A Trip To Disneyland Paris

Planning a trip to Disneyland Paris

A holiday to Disneyland is a dream come true for most young children (and secretly most adults too). However, planning a trip to Disneyland Paris from the UK may seem like a daunting task. Especially when you’ve got kids to organise. Don’t worry, you can make this an epic family holiday to remember, here is some advice on how to best plan your break.

Planning a trip to Disneyland Paris

Fly, Drive or take the Train?

Depending on where you live in the UK the question might sound like a silly one. It also depends on how many persons are in your family and how much luggage you need. Flying is a quick and easy option for a small family even better if you are taking carry on only. Flights to Paris from the UK are regular and cheap too. Transport is available directly from the airport to the Disneyland Paris resort and can be booked in advance through companies such as T2 Traslados.

You might like the idea of having your car with you whilst you are away. It’s a relatively easy route directly from the UK through the channel tunnel. Are you worried about luggage restrictions on airlines? Driving directly makes that easier too.  If you aren’t staying at the resort, however, it can be costly and difficult to park in the centre of Paris. So beware of this before you travel.

Taking the train is another option, easily catch a train straight from the UK to the Disneyland Paris rail station avoiding additional transfers. Train travel can be expensive if you don’t book in advance though and you will also have restricted space for bags on some trains.

Personally, I would decide to fly or take the train and leave the driving to someone else!

Where to Stay?

Planning a trip to Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris Manhattan Hotel

Do you stay at the Disneyland Paris resort or in the centre of Paris and travel in? If you have very small children I doubt you will want to travel back and forth from the centre. A resort stay will be easier and more fun for your kids. You can get some great package deals for families as well.

Alternatively, if you want to spend some time exploring the city of Paris then you might want to stay elsewhere. This might be the case if you want to split your trip between enjoying Disneyland and seeing what else Paris has to offer.

Whichever you choose, do your research and find a hotel or resort stay with the best amenities for you.

How to book?

Once you know how you want to get there and where you want to stay then you are ready to book! How exciting! You are almost finished planning a trip to Disneyland Paris! Although there are a few different ways to book, everyone will have their preferred method. I tend to book my flights and hotels separately as I feel I can get the best deals that way. But if you are looking for a package then booking through an agent is a good idea. You might even get preferential rates if you book with a company if you are staying at the Disneyland Resort.

Have you been Planning a trip to Disneyland Paris?

A Disney theme park adventure is a great holiday idea and as you can see it’s easier to plan than you think. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it just as much as the kids too! Are you planning a trip to Disneyland Paris? Do you have any other tips that might help other travellers? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think?

This is a sponsored post for T2 Traslados.

24 hours in Verona: How To Fill Your Time

Verona is a relatively small town in Italy but if you love Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet love story, then you need to take a stop and explore. Typical Italian atmosphere and hospitality as well as beautiful architecture and monuments. Here is how to spend 24 hours in Verona and tick off the best sights the town has to offer.

Look out from Juliets Balcony

24 hours in Verona - Juliets Balcony

You just have to do this when you are in Verona, looking down from the balcony that inspired Shakespeare’s tale in fair Verona. If you make only one tourist attraction during your 24 hours in Verona then this should be it. Bring a pen along and you can write your own message of love in the room behind the balcony like so many other visitors before you. Just don’t try to stick a message there with chewing gum, you can get in trouble for doing this now.

Juliet’s’ statue is also on display in the courtyard below. Tradition is to rub the breast of the statue for luck in love. You’ll notice Juliet has one very shiny breast!

Visit Romeos house

Looking more like a castle than a house, Casa di Romeo is built in a fashion which dates back to an age of feuding families. Building a stronghold to protect the family, the Montagues lived in their fort-like home of internal courtyards and tall walls.

Today the premises is privately own and visitors can only view the property from the outside. However, you can soak up the Romantic atmosphere and imagine beyond the walls deep in the heart of Verona. You’ll find it not far from Juliets balcony and it won’t take you long to look around before moving on with your day.

Next, you should grab some lunch and a drink in the Piazza Delle Erbe. You could spend your whole day in this lovely market square. The stunning statues and fountains are surrounded by market stalls, bars and restaurants perfect, atmospheric sit and think territory. Grab a drink, maybe an Aperol spritz then sit, and people watch for a while. Next, take a stroll around the wonderful markets, browsing souvenirs and other trinkets you might want to buy to take home.

Being here, you understand the vibe of the place. Watch day to day business as well as throngs of tourists pass through. You might even catch a bride and groom having photos on their wedding day. Verona is an increasingly popular place to get married.

24 hours in Verona - Piazza Delle Erbe

Climb the Torre Dei Lamberti

Near to the Piazza Delle Erbe, you will find the bell tower of Torre Dei Lamberti. After lunch and shopping take a walk to this impressive building and climb the to the top. Breathtaking views of Verona a wait, especially on a summers day. A lift will take you most of the way if you wish, then walk up some steps to see the panoramic view of the mountainside and town.

A great way to see the whole of the town from above during your 24 hours in Verona. Bring your camera to capture your visit. Entrance costs 8 Euros per person and the tower is open  10 am to 6 pm every day.

Tour the Roman amphitheatre

See an opera, a ballet or just book a tour of Verona arena which is still a working amphitheatre today. A Roman monument dating back to the first century AD which has become the centre of the towns art and music performances. Open all year round, entrance costs 10 Euros, but if you visit on the first Sunday in the month you’ll pay just 1 Euro.

What’s unique about this arena is that it is built of pinkish marble which just adds to the romance of Verona. You may have to slot this visit in the best time during your stay depending whether you want to see a show or just enter and look around.

Eat Traditional Verona Cuisine

To finish your day in Verona you should definitely try a traditional dish from the area. You will find plenty or tasty Italian dishes in the restaurants dotted around the squares and beyond in Verona. However, there are some local specialties that are unique to this part of the country. Try the risotto al tastasal (with sausages) or if you are very adventurous the traditional horse or donkey meat stew.

Top restaurants include Osteria la Fontanina, Casa Perbellini and Restaurant Il Desco. There are of course many places to try other cuisines, but if you are only spending 24 hours in Verona, you should eat local.

Book a Romantic Room For The Night

Being a city of love there are lots of places you can stay which promise to capture the romance of the town. On the pricier side, you can stay at Il Sogno di Giulietta or Juliet’s dream hotel. Most of the luxurious rooms have a balcony that looks out over Juliet’s courtyard and have beautiful, great quality decor. It also appears to be the place to stay for couples looking to get engaged during their break. Prices range from 400 to 3200 Euros depending on the room.

For a slightly more budget stay in Verona, check out Corte Delle Pigne Bed and Breakfast, not far from the main square. All of the rooms are filled with romantic details to make your break that little bit special. Want breakfast in bed? Another special touch the owners offer is a choice of where you take your breakfast. Prices start from 90 Euros making it very good value too.

How would you spend 24 hours in Verona?

I think spending 24 hours in Verona is enough time to see and do what you need to get a good flavour of the destination. Spending a night here whilst travelling between other Italian destinations can make a great addition to your trip. What do you think? What would be top of your list when visiting Verona in Italy? You might not need to spend as much time in this city as in Rome or Venice, but these sights will certainly fill your time.

Originally posted on Pretravels.com

What To Do In Paris This Summer

Paris is great at any time of the year but if you are planning to visit soon, you’ll want to know what to do in Paris this summer. Take a look at the best things to do in the city of lights during the warmer months.

What to do in Paris this summer

Watch A Film At An Outdoor Cinema

La Villette Park opens up and offers films projected onto a massive screen whilst visitors sit on Deck chairs and enjoy the show. At about 10 pm or when it gets dark, the films begin.  Watch classic and Hollywood films. But remember they are in French so it’s a great way to improve your language skills! Mingle with the locals and sit back and enjoy the show.

Tuileries Gardens Funfair

What to do in Paris this Summer

Enjoyment for adults and children alike to be had at this ad hoc summer theme park. As well as carousels and rides you can try carnival games such as hook a duck or chamboultout (knocking down cans with a ball). Look like a hero by winning a teddy bear for your loved one and if you don’t win try some candy floss instead.

Relax In Buttes Chaumont Park

Unlike many other parks in Paris, here you can actually sit on the lawns and relax. It’s a beautiful place to explore too. There are waterfalls a lake and an amazing atmosphere that is perfect for summer. Bring a picnic, sunbathe or just take a stroll through the park. Whatever you do here summer is the best time to visit.

Summer Festivals

What to do in Paris this summer

From the Paris Jazz Festival to the Paris Quartier d’été. When you ask what to do in Paris this summer the answer will usually be got to a festival. Groups of like-minded people get together to enjoy what the artists of Paris have to offer. Whether it’s great music, art, performances or dancing, you’ll find it here.

Visit the Beach

Well, a makeshift beach. The docks of Paris turn into a beach for local and tourists’ pleasure during the months of July and August. Enjoy many activities such as volleyball, water sports or Tai Chi. Or just pull up a deck chair and enjoy the sunshine and the view.

What to do in Paris this summer

Now you know what to do in Paris this Summer, How do you get here?

Summer holidays mean plenty of direct flights from most major world cities to Paris. In fact, there are several flights a day from most European capitals making it an easy city break to take. Both budget airlines such as Flybe and premium flights on airlines such as British Airways.

Once you get here you need to get to your destination. There are many ways to get fro the airport but one choice is to pre-book an airport transfer. This can be done from a company such as Top Paris Transfer where you can book private cheap taxi and shuttle services from Paris airports to destinations in France.

Have you visited Paris in summer? What was your favourite thing to do? If you have any other suggestions leave a comment below.

This is a sponsored post for Topparistransfer.com.

 

Top UK Museums – Titanic Belfast

Titanic Belfast

About Titanic Belfast

Next, on my Top UK museums adventure, is Titanic Belfast. We visited as a family in February this year and really enjoyed the whole experience. Located on Belfast docks, it is the largest Titanic experience in the world and offers a unique and interactive way to learn about the history of the Titanic.

Titanic BelfastThe Star of the Show.

One of the most talked-about exhibits in the museum is the shipyard ride. This short electronic ride allows you to immerse yourself in the conditions and what went on when the ship was built. It breaks up walking around the museum and grabs the attention of visitors especially the kids.

My Favourite place

I enjoyed the end of the museum when the stories of the passengers you have been following throughout the tour come to an end, and you find out what became of them. The mixing of sad and happy stories and also a way to remember individuals who were affected by the tragedy.

Some other great exhibits

From the Launch experience, the decor and insides of the ship through the decks and classes to the sinking and the aftermath. The museum takes you on a journey of the life of the ship.

Titanic Belfast - Tara Bruton
Second Class Cabin Titanic Belfast – Tara Bruton

Facilities

Excellent facilities are available for visitors. There’s free Wi-Fi
throughout the building,  locker storage facility where you can leave your bags for just £1.  Car and Coach Parking is available so it’s an easy place to drive to during your trip.
You’ll find two restaurants with a wide range of options,  Bistro 401 restaurant and the Galley Café. There’s also a souvenir shop to pick up memorabilia from your visit.

Getting there and when to visit.

Titanic Belfast is open daily all year round, excluding 24th – 26th December from 10 am to 5 pm off peak and 9 am to 7 pm during peak season.  Entrance fees are £18 for adults and £8 for children aged 5 to 16 years.

Check out some of my posts on other Top UK museums, The British Museum and The Victoria and Albert.

Have you been to Titanic Belfast? What did you think?

 

Sri Lanka Off The Beaten Track

Sri Lanka, a place of beautiful landscapes, ancient ruins and mysterious history. No wonder this small island is becoming increasingly popular with visitors today. If you want to explore Indias smaller neighbour more deeply then take a look at these Sri Lanka off the beaten track destinations to get more out of your break.

Sri Lanka Off The Beaten Track
Sri Lanka Off The Beaten Track

Historic Galle

Situated on the coast is the old city of Galle which was once the main port of the island. There are boutique hotels, excellent local shopping and religious buildings and structures built from the pretty and locally sourced coral. The most interesting historical buildings are the Fort and Sri Lanka’s oldest lighthouse.

Creative types have already made this a favourite destination for foreign artists, writers and photographers. Find art galleries and workshops, amongst cafés, bars and restaurants.

Ancient Kandy

One Hundred Buddhas, Temple Of The Tooth, Sri Lanka off the beaten path

This city is a Unesco world heritage site which is popular for the famed Temple of the tooth, however, the rest of the area is relatively unexplored. A stunning decorated temple where you can find the Buddha’s left upper canine.

In July or August, depending on the full moon the Esala Perahera festival takes place in Kandy. It is one of the biggest Buddhist festivals in the world where there’s an elephant parade and the tooth is on show for a limited time.

The Royal Botanical Gardens are worth a visit showcasing the pretty trees and plants of Sri Lanka. Also in the area is an elephant sanctuary where you can see rescued elephants too.

Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Sri Lanka off the beaten track

Make your way through the tropical rainforest and spend your time spotting rare plant life and vegetation.  Explore the beautiful surroundings and soak up the calming atmosphere in the forest.

The Sinharaja forest reserve is home to over fifty percent of Sri Lanka’s native species. These include mammals and butterflies, as well as various insects, reptiles, and amphibians.  If you are a nature lover then this place should be on your list when visiting Sri Lanka off the beaten track.

Dambulla GoldenTemple

Sri Lanka off the beaten track

Over 150 statues stand in this temple cave complex in Dambulla. A place of pilgrimage for more than 22 centuries containing over 2000sq m of mural filled walls. The statues inside mostly depict Lord Buddha but there are also Bodhisattvas statues.

Nearby is an ancient fortress built by a Lankan king thousands of years ago, Sigiriya. Walk among the ruins along the narrow pathways and imagine what life was like for the kings of the past.

Sri Lanka off the beaten track – where to start?

If you don’t know where to start when exploring Sri Lanka then you might want to book your trips with a tour operator. Olanka Travels offers packages which include seeing Sri Lanka off the beaten track as well as the top and most popular sites in the country.

Did you know that Sri Lanka has an amazing eight Unesco World Heritage sites? That’s a lot of interesting history and places to visit for such a small place.

Have you been to Sri Lanka? What do you think is the best place to visit here?

This is a sponsored post for Olanka Travels.

GAUDI’S WORK IN BARCELONA

It’s hard to miss Gaudi’s work in Barcelona whether you know what you are looking for or not. The amazing buildings and art draw tourists from around the globe. Some of these attractions you will have heard of and perhaps some not. Take a look at the highlights below you must visit when exploring Gaudi’s work in Barcelona.

Gaudi’s Work In Barcelona: Park Guell

Exploring Gaudi's Work In Barcelona - Park Guell

One of Gaudi’s best-completed works in Barcelona is the beautiful Park Guell.  Hop on the number 24 bus, which is the easiest way to reach Carmel Hill where you’ll find the park.

A favourite design is the ornately tiled colourful dragon statue at the fountain found at the entrance. As you go through the park you will see twisted rock pillars that look like they are growing out of the ground and at one with the landscape. Walking to the very top of the park you will find the famous tiled terrace with spectacular views across Barcelona. Sit on the mosaic seats and take in the scenery.

You can also visit the museum which is located in a house where Gaudi used to live. Here you can see pieces of furniture created by Gaudi himself and learn more about his life and works.

Some parts of the park are free to enter but you will need to buy tickets to see the whole thing. You can also take a guided tour if you want to learn more about the Park and Gaudi creations here. If you only visit one of Gaudi’s exquisite works in the city, then this should be it!

Gaudi’s Work In Barcelona: Casa Balto

Gaudi's work in Barcelona - Casa Balto

This beautiful colourful house looks to some like it is designed to look like skulls and bones. The marvellous attention to detail here inside and outside the building is phenomenal.

The building has a marine theme, Gaudi taking his inspiration for the colours of the facade from the naturally occurring colours of coral. Inside ascend the ornate private staircase and find yourself on the main floor which is the former residence of the Balto family. Continue your tour through the expertly lit floors until you finally reach the roof terrace. Your audio guided tour will take about an hour from start to finish.

Find Casa Balto on Passeig de Gràcia which is easy to get to by metro, bus or the hop on hop off sightseeing bus. Entrance fees are currently €23.50 and an audio guide is included in this price. You might just want to marvel at the design from the outside for free, this is the best part after all.

Gaudi’s Work In Barcelona: Sagrada Familia

Gaudi's work in Barcelona - Sagrada Familia

Probably the most famous Gaudi works in Barcelona and yet it is still not completed. You will have heard of and maybe seen pictures of this magnificent Cathedral which is a current work in progress. If you visit after 2018 you might find a completed Cathedral, but we will just have to wait and see.

As you can imagine it gets very busy as tourists flock to visit. You should book ahead to avoid the queues especially if you want to go up into the towers. Once you get inside you will be in awe of the colours and designs. Everywhere you look a see new and exciting pieces of art inside this massive space.

Work started on the building in 1882 with Gaudi himself overseeing the project until his death in 1926. You can see today the differences in materials and construction methods used throughout its lifetime. It is said that Gaudi’s plans are being followed closely however, there is some controversy about whether that is really the case.

Whatever you think about the ongoing construction you have to admit the Sagrada Familia is spectacular. It must be on your list when visiting Barcelona. You’ll easily find the Cathedral in Barcelona, take the metro to the Sagrada Familia stop or the hop on hop off bus stops right outside.

If you decide not to book ahead entrance costs are Main entrance: €15.00 or Main entrance + towers€29.00. You may pay more if you want to skip the line, however, it might be worth it rather than standing in the hot sun for a couple of hours.

Gaudi’s Work In Barcelona : La Pedrera

Gaudi's work in Barcelona - La pedrera

Originally known as Casa Mila, the building now has the nickname La Pedrera or the stone quarry. When you look at the building you can see why, with its sweeping stone facade. You’ll find more than just a building here now, it is the headquarters of Catalunya-La Pedrera and organises activities and exhibitions for the public.

When you visit La Pedrera you will have access to a wealth of knowledge and information about Gaudi’s works in Barcelona. Start in La Pedrera apartment, through to the courtyard, exhibition room then on to the roof terrace.  From the attic terrace, you’ll have a great view over this amazing work and it will give you a greater understanding of the artists’ vision.

This attraction is very close to Casa Balto on Passeig de Gràcia so it’s a good idea to see both on the same day. Entrance fees include your audio guide and start from €29.00 for adults and €11.00 for children. Children under 7 years old go free. Again you can skip the line and attend special events at an extra cost.  

What else should you know?

Much like many European cities such as Rome and Paris,  a lot of the things to see are within walking distance or a few metro stops. So it can be easy to get around and see all you want to see. Remember to check opening times for all the attractions you want to visit before you go to prevent any disappointment.

There are even more of Gaudi’s works to visit here. However, I have mentioned the top sights you should not miss on your break in Barcelona. Other works include Casa Vicens, Cascada Fountain at Park de la Ciutadella and Casa Calvet which are worth a visit if you have more time. Have you visited Gaudi’s works in Barcelona? What was your favourite sight to see?

Originally posted on pretravels.com.