Top UK museums – The British Museum

Top UK Museums – The British Museum.

So I have decided to make the most of the remainder of my maternity leave and take some trips with my daughter.. ( and sometimes bring the husband) to visit the top museums in the UK. The British Museum was on the list already for our trip to London in December, so this is where I will start.

2016 review British Museum
The British museum London 2016 review.

About the British Museum.

The British Museum was founded in 1753. Proudly the first National Public Museum in the World and it is free to enter and explore. The galleries feature artefacts from across the globe.  Collections include Americas, Ancient Egypt, Africa, Asia, Ancient Rome and Greece, Europe and the Middle East. There are also Themes including Enlightenment ,Collecting the world and Living and Dying .

The Star of the Show.

The Rosetta stone is the most interesting and iconic artefact you will find in the British Museum. A ground breaking discovery containing script in both ancient Greek and Hieroglyphics. Meaning we can now decipher the meaning of Hieroglyphics today.

Rosetta stone

My favourite place.

The enlightenment gallery! From reading the titles of the historic books to the busts and sculptures dotting the room. This is my favourite place to walk through and explore within the museum.

As described by the British museum itself: The Enlightenment was an age of reason and learning that flourished across Europe and America from about 1680 to 1820. This rich and diverse permanent exhibition uses thousands of objects to demonstrate how people in Britain understood their world during this period. It is housed in the King’s Library, the former home of the library of King George III.

Enlightenment.

Some other great exhibits.

The Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece exhibits are undisputed  amongst the most interesting exhibits  in the museum. If not only purely due to the scale of some of the items on display.  Partial temples and giant statues will transport you back to ancient times as you wander through these fascinating pieces.

Facilities.

The facilities here are actually pretty great. Especially for families! There’s a family centre with lockers to store pushchairs and any other luggage, benches and tables to eat packed lunches and feed babies and ample changing facilities. There’s a restaurant and two cafes with a good selection of food and drinks on offer with plenty of seating. The museum is wheelchair accessible and easy to get about for wheelchair users.  There is also a large gift shop with a lovely wide selection of souvenirs and replicas.

Download a floor plan here  https://www.britishmuseum.org/PDF/pdfA4_allfloors.pdf

Floor plan

Getting there and when to visit.

The museum is easily reached by walking from London Euston train station and the nearest tube stations are Tottenham Court Road and Holborn.

Admission to the British museum is free and is open daily 10.00–17.30 and on Fridays until 20.30.

I have to say I’m very proud of this museum and would recommend more people in the UK to visit. Have you been? What was your favourite part? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

 

Lisbon – our first family trip abroad

First family trip abroad to Lisbon

This trip to Lisbon was the first time in another country with our baby daughter. We knew it would be different to our previous trips, however we had a wonderful time and managed to do more than we expected.

20160912_151148

Getting from Lisbon airport to the centre was easy. The metro line runs straight to the centre, so within 40 minutes we were at our apartment.

We chose an apartment in the Amoreiras Garden district  Casa Amora. Perfectly located within walking or short Metro ride from the sights but in a quiet enough neighbourhood for a family visit. The great thing about choosing an apartment when travelling with a young baby is that sterilising and heating bottles is easier with a kitchen area!

The metro and tram system are a great way to get around even with a child. Although avoid the rush hour times and you will be more comfortable.

Lisbon is a city of many levels, and with viewpoints accessible by elevators and funiculars there is always a way to a fantastic view.

On our first day we visited the castle which was at the top of my agenda. There was a beautiful view across the city from the top and also home to a family of peacocks! (Which I love).

There were plenty of bars and restaurants to stop at whilst exploring the city. We took our time, relaxed and enjoyed our surroundings.

During our trip we also grabbed a tuk-tuk ride to Belem. We tried the famous pastry dessert and explored the river front gardens before heading to the tower. There was quite a queue to get into the tower without an advanced ticket, however it gave us time to enjoy the view of the tower from the outside.

The bus journey back from Belem to Lisbon centre was pretty eventful. A very full bus and a roadworks re-route meant some very unhappy passengers.. But we made it back in one piece.

We also visited Carmo convent, Parque Eduardo VII as well as some spectacular squares and viewpoints. Lisbon is a lovely city to walk around but there can be a lot of steps and hills!

My first experience of travelling abroad with our baby was actually pretty great. We had a lovely time as a family as it was surprisingly relaxed. I have to admit we visited less bars of an evening than we used to, we ate and had a beer earlier in the day before enjoying Netflix and a bottle of wine back at our apartment.

We grabbed a taxi through cabify back to the airport  (as referred by the lovely apartment owners). It’s similar to Uber so our referral meant a free trip and they also provide child seats upon request!

Overall an amazing start to our family travel in Lisbon.

Here’s to many more family holidays in the future! 🙂

 

Baby passport – how to get a passport for your baby

Baby passport

How to get your baby passport in the UK – my tips.

Gone are the days when a child can travel on their parents passports. Every British child now needs to have their own baby passport to travel even new-born babies.

Baby passport

It may sound like a difficult task to get a baby passport. However it is simpler than you may think.

First things first – your baby needs to be registered and have a birth certificate that can be sent with their passport application. This can take some time depending on where you live. For example Birmingham registry office had a 6 week wait for appointments to register births. There are, however, always cancelled appointments that come up. If you call the office you may get in earlier. (We managed to get an appointment after a week.)




Next  is getting the passport photo right.  Here are the guidelines:

Photos of babies and children.

‘Children must be on their own in the picture. Babies must not be holding toys or using dummies. Children under 6 don’t have to be looking directly at the camera or have a neutral expression. Children under one don’t have to have their eyes open. You can support their head with your hand, but your hand must not be visible in the photo.’

The background must also be cream or light grey. I used a cream blanket to lie the baby on.

To make sure the photos were correct I used the website paspic.com. They quality check the photos and print them at the correct size which prevents problems with the application. The pictures were delivered in a couple of days.

Baby passport
We got our baby passport!

The application is pretty straightforward. Very much the same as an adult passport, however you will need to fill in grandparents as well as parents details.  The passport needs to be signed by someone who has known the adult filling in the form for at least two years and recognise the baby photo.

Here are the requirements of the counter-signatory:

‘Who can sign your form and photo

Your counter-signatory must:

  • have known the person applying (or the adult who signed the form if the passport is for a child under 16) for at least 2 years.
  • be able to identify the person applying, eg they’re a friend, neighbour or colleague (not just someone who knows them professionally).
  • be ‘a person of good standing in their community’ or work in (or be retired from) a recognised profession.

They can’t be closely related to or involved with the person applying, eg:

  • related by birth or marriage
  • be in a relationship with or live at the same address as the person applyingIf you’re applying in the UK

Your counter-signatory must:

  • live in the UK
  • have a current British or Irish passport’

Here is a link to the list of Recognised professionals who can sign the baby passport and photo. There are more to choose from than I realised!

Baby passport.
Our passports ready for our first family trip to Lisbon in September.

So you have your birth certificate, completed form, photos and counter-signatory.. Next send it off and wait for the return!

I sent everything off by Royal Mail special delivery as I wanted to make sure it got there as soon as possible. I also wanted to make sure it got there, not that I don’t trust the post office.

Within 3 weeks from sending everything off we received our brand new baby passport! Quick and easy really :-).

I hope this has helped and makes sense for those applying for their babies first passport. I cant wait to take our new baby on her first trip!

Happy travels!




 

 

 

 

Kaunas spring market

Kaunas market.

Kaunas spring market Lithuania

Due to the flights being extra cheap with Ryanair from Birmingham to Kaunas, rather than Vilnius we flew into and out of Kaunas airport. On arrival we went straight to Vilnius, however we stayed in Kaunas at the end of our trip. I’m glad we did as when we arrived the streets were lined with stalls being set up for the annual Kaunas spring market.

The stalls spanned the length of the old town all the way up to St Michael the archangel church. There were very few tourists here at this time and many stall holders did not speak English. We managed to get by with hand gestures, laughter and the odd word to make our purchases!

The vendors consisted of lots of food stalls, both hot and cold,  local crafts including carvings and iron mongers and also every day items. It was great to browse the stalls taking in the sights and smells and sampling some of the foods on offer!

Here are a few pictures which are much better at showing the market than I can explain!

Kaunas market
The view of Kaunas Spring market from our room.
Kaunas spring market
Hot food cooking away at the market.
Kaunas spring market.
Sweets and treats.
Kaunas spring market.
Local crafts. We bought one of these fabric Lithuania banners.
Kaunas spring market.
More fresh cooked food on the go.
Kaunas market.
Smoking fish sold at this stall.
Stalls lining the streets in Kaunas.
Stalls lining the streets in Kaunas.
Kaunas market.
Amazing carvings at the Kaunas spring market.

 

Kaunas spring market.
Love these crisps on a stick! So simple, a potato spiralled and fried!

 

 

 







Vilnius – Top things to do

Exploring Vilnius – What are the top things to do?

We spent a few days in Lithuania in March and Vilnius was our main base to explore from. Being the largest city and the capitol, there are plenty of things to see and do.  Here are my highlights  🙂

Castle Hill and Gedimina’s Tower

Vilnius
Castle Hill – Vilnius.

The top of the hill is reached by either walking a sloping path or the easier and cheap funicular. Most of the buildings have been reconstructed however there is a stunning view over the city. To climb a little higher, pay 4 euros to enter the tower for 360 views from the top. Inside the tower there are some interesting exhibits including suits of armour and other historic pieces. The stairs of the spiral staircase are a little steep but worth it!

The Hill of Three Crosses.

Vilnius
Hill of Three Crosses – Vilnius.

The crosses stand on the old site of the crooked castle and are believed to have been erected in the 17th Century. The climb is a steep one, entering through Kalnų Park. Climbing up the slopes and steps you will reach a plateau where the crosses stand. Another great view across the city and also castle hill.

Vilnius Cathedral and Cathedral square.

Vilnius
Cathedral Square Vilnius.

This great open space is full of interesting architecture. The Cathedral itself is French Classicist style and mostly dates from the late 18th century. Built on the site of an original pagan temple . It has had various uses throughout its life, including being used by the Soviets as a garage for truck repairs. Today the chapels, sculptures and paintings are to be enjoyed by its visitors.

The old town and Pilies street.

Vilnius
Vilnius Old Town.

With one of the largest old towns in Europe, there are many streets to explore. In contrast to Cathedral square, Pilies and the surrounding streets are narrow and winding. Get lost within the souvenir and local craft stores, coffee shops and restaurants. Especially popular for its local Amber-ware.

The Gates of Dawn

Vilnius
Gates of Dawn Vilnius.

The Madonna of Mercy is the focus of this classical chapel. Following the custom of having a chapel or religious image in gateways to protect leaving travellers and guard from enemies. This is the only gateway to have survived from the early 16th Century. Entrance is from the outside, steps lead up from a door in the street below.

Vilnius.
Gates of Dawn Vilnius.

These are just a few of the main sights to see in here. More top attractions worth visiting are.. The Presidential Palace. St Johns church. Vilnius picture gallery and The Church of St Anne.

Find more information here Vilnius tourism.

Trafalgar falls and Titou gorge Dominica

Trafalgar falls and Titou gorge.

Exploring Trafalgar falls and Titou gorge Dominica Caribbean.

To make the most of our day on the beautiful island of Dominica we decided to explore the natural wonders of the place. Trafalgar falls and Titou gorge are popular sites to visit. Dominica is a lush volcanic island which boasts rainforest and the famous Morne Trois Pitons National Park.

Trafalgar falls and Titou gorge
Trafalgar falls and Titou gorge trip.

Our tour guide looked after a minibus full of tourists. Our drive was really interesting, taking regular stops to marvel at the beautiful views. As it was Christmas time we learned about the local traditions and food served at this time of the year.

As we drove higher and higher the temperature dropped. The air became thicker with less of a breeze and I wished I had brought some drinking water along with me! Once we got off the bus there were always a few vendors around so I managed to get myself a drink on the way.




Trafalgar falls
Trafalgar Falls.

Our first stop was Trafalgar falls. We walked a short trek through rainforest to a viewing platform. Here we could see both waterfalls, the mother and the father. The taller of the falls, the father, drops 200 feet. The mother is adjacent shorter, wider waterfall. I enjoyed taking pictures here!

Dominica
The mother Trafalgar falls.
Dominica
The father Trafalgar falls.
Trafalgar falls and Titou gorge.
The Mother and the Father waterfalls.

I would have liked to spend more time here. However being on a schedule we trekked back down to our waiting minibus and carried on our tour.

Next stop was Titou gorge. Famous for being featured in the film Pirates of the Caribbean where a narrow gap leads to a pool and a hidden waterfall. Due to the current and being pregnant at the time I watched from a platform as others swam through the small gap. Life jackets were provided to those who swam and both adults and children took the plunge.

Dominica
View over the national park in Dominica.




The waterfall was strong so  swimmers could not swim out into the pool beyond. We did get a show from one of the guides who recreated the film scene by jumping from the platform into the pool below.

The water was described as “refreshing”. Which just meant pretty cold from the shrieks I heard as people entered the water!

titou gorge
Swimming through the gorge.

After finishing up here we were taken back to the town. The trip lasted half a day which left us with some time to explore some more of Dominica.

Geeky Wanderlust
Geeky Wanderlust posters, photography, cards and more.

Beach day in St Lucia

Beach day in St Lucia.

Spending a beach day in St Lucia

Not having much time to spend here we decided to have a beach day in St Lucia and make the most of the beautiful sunshine and the sea.

After asking for some advise we were directed towards Rodney Beach as somewhere we could relax and swim with facilities too.

Beach day in St Lucia
Beach day in St Lucia. Rodney beach.




We got a taxi and as is usual in the Caribbean we arranged a time for the same driver to collect us to take us back to the harbour.

The friendly driver took us past some lovely scenery and told us about the island.  He then showed us where we could hire sun beds and umbrellas. We later found the rental was quite expensive here compared to other islands but it was quite a popular beach.

We paid 10 East Caribbean dollars for each beach chair and another 10 for the umbrella. This included waiter service from a nearby restaurant if we wanted to order some drinks.

There were quite a few vendors hanging around on this beach. Every now and again I would be disturbed from my reading. Being asked if I wanted a massage, to buy jewellery, coconuts or other items. Most were not pushy and left us alone after a while. Still it wasn’t as relaxing as you would imagine!

Beach day in St Lucia.
Sea and sunshine at Rodney beach.




Although there were some water sports around, the sea was safe for swimming. I had a nice dip and a swim in the refreshing water. Again it was pretty busy compared to some other beaches we later visited.

Our taxi driver returned at the time arranged and took us back to the town where we stopped off at the markets. At the time of year we visited a lot of places were closed for the holidays as local people prepared for their own festivities.

Beach day St Lucia.
View over St Lucia.




 

 

 

 

A day exploring Bequia

Exploring beautiful Bequia.

Bequia is a small island in St Vincent and the Grenadines and easy to explore in a day. We took a guided land rover tour to see the highlights of the island before exploring the tiny Port Elizabeth  and Princess Margaret Beach.

Bequia
View of the bay from Fort Hamilton.

Our cruise ship could not dock directly in Bequia as it is a tender port. So we got on a small boat which took us to Port Elizabeth where we met our guide.

After driving through the town we made our way up to Fort Hamilton. This offered beautiful views across the bay and we listened to a little history lesson too. All that is left of the fort are a few cannons pointing across admiralty bay.

Bequia
Pretty coloured houses.
Bequia
Fort Hamilton Bequia.
Bequia
Cannons at Fort Hamilton.




Next we drove through Bequia’s island greenery and past perfect beaches along the coast. During our ride we were told about the old plantations and new celebrity homes emerging on the hillside.

Island life seemed so relaxed. I loved watching everyday life go by, capturing a few moments as we passed by.

After stopping for a drink of Caribbean punch (no rum for me I’m afraid). We took in some more beautiful views across the other side and another bay. That’s the great thing about Bequia. Because of its size you are never far away from an amazing panoramic. Its fair to say my camera didn’t get a rest!

Bequia
Local men relaxing in the shade.
Bequia
Local boy in Bequia.
Beequia
Lady collecting fruit.

 




One of favourite parts of the tour was our visit to Old Hegg turtle sanctuary. We met “Brother King” owner of the sanctuary who explained the work he does there. Rearing baby turtles until they are big and strong enough to be returned to the wild.

There are also a few older turtles who are permanent residents at the Sanctuary. Mr King explained that due to injury and also albino turtles with white bellies would not survive in the wild. This is why these turtles, including Old Hegg herself,  won a lifetime of care from Mr King.

Bequia
Old Hegg turtle sanctuary.
Bequia
Baby turtles.
Bequia
Hello little turtle.
Bequia
Beautiful turtles.
Bequia
Permanent resident.

After the sanctuary visit our tour ended back at Port Elizabeth. As Princess Margaret beach was nearby we hopped in a taxi boat for a quick ride. Named after Royalty the beach is said to be favoured by the princess when she visited the island. The beach is small but very pretty. We grabbed a drink and a bite to eat at one of the few bars lining the beach. A very chilled out atmosphere, very Caribbean.

Instead of catching the boat back we walked along the coast. A small walkway over the sea and a stairway around coastal cliffs brought us back to the port.

Our last hour was spent wandering around the small souvenir stalls and shops before catching the tender back to the ship.

When visiting the Caribbean I definitely recommend a tour in Bequia. Such a beautiful, unspoiled island.