India in colour: Memories of our honeymoon

Back in 2007 MOH and I honeymooned in India a few months after our June wedding. For me India was all about the colours, the sounds, the spices and the smells, some of which trust me you don't want to smell! The greens, blues, yellows, reds and whites of India are brought to life in this beautiful India in colour infographic by Great Rail Journeys.

India is a fascinating place and I've been looking back at some of my pictures from our trip. In 2007 I hadn't moved to a digital camera so these are scanned images of the photos I took - and I'm rather pleased how they came out. I think some of these are actually better than the printed versions I have!  

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Our trip started in the organised chaos that is Delhi.  Well, I assume it's organised, but I can't be sure...

RICKSHAWS IN DEHLI

RICKSHAWS IN DEHLI

IN THE COURTYARD OF JAMA MASJID, OLD DEHLI

IN THE COURTYARD OF JAMA MASJID, OLD DEHLI

THE DEHLI MEMORIAL OR INDIA GATE DESIGNED BY SIR EDWARD LUTYENS

THE DEHLI MEMORIAL OR INDIA GATE DESIGNED BY SIR EDWARD LUTYENS

THE LAHORE GATE, ENTRANCE TO THE RED FORT IN DEHLI

THE LAHORE GATE, ENTRANCE TO THE RED FORT IN DEHLI

In Jaipur our tour guide took us to a vantage place opposite the pink sandstone Hawa Mahal - or Palace of the Winds - so we could get the best picture, it's just a shame I cut the top off! At least with digital photography we can now check we've captured what we intended too.

JAIPUR'S MOST DISTINCTIVE LANDMARK, THE FAIRY-TALE PINK-SANDSTONE HAWA MAHAL

JAIPUR'S MOST DISTINCTIVE LANDMARK, THE FAIRY-TALE PINK-SANDSTONE HAWA MAHAL

Nonetheless, top cut off or not it's pretty amazing isn't it? It's essentially a high screen wall, built so women of the Royal household could observe street festivities while remaining hidden from the outside.

It's not only the sights that are colourful, there's also the trucks! Yes these are heavily decorated and here's just a couple that made us smile as we sat in horrendous traffic on our coach tour one day.

HORN PLEASE!  AHEM...

HORN PLEASE!  AHEM...

In Agra we left early for our visit to the Taj Mahal to get a head start on the crowds. But it wasn't long before there was colour and noise there too against the white marble mausoleum. It is truly an amazing and awe-inspiring special place, and I'll always remember our first glimpse of this fabulous place.

THE CLASSIC VIEW OF THE TAJ MAHAL

THE CLASSIC VIEW OF THE TAJ MAHAL

DETAILED MOSAICS ON THE TAJ MAHAL

DETAILED MOSAICS ON THE TAJ MAHAL

These are just a few of the highlights of our trip which also included seeing tigers in Ranthambore. India was an unusual choice for a honeymoon destination - so people told us - but it was one I wouldn't have missed.  I'm interested to know where you went for your honeymoon, or where your dream honeymoon destination is?

 

 Disclosure: this is a collaborative post. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

 

 

Cycling on holiday: why I'm hooked

WITH MY HIRE BIKE IN BAD BAYERSOIEN

WITH MY HIRE BIKE IN BAD BAYERSOIEN

Well I'm half way through sharing the exploits of our recent cycle tour in Bavaria. You'll know it was my first cycling holiday and that I was a little wary beforehand; but I hinted at it when I came back and it's true I'm more than a little bit hooked.

Today I thought I'd share why I've found cycling on holiday to be such good fun.

1. It's a great way to sightsee

Yes it's a little harder to take pictures along the way and I wouldn't recommend taking pictures on the move, but the advantage of cycling is you can cover so much more ground than if you were on foot, so you get to see more of the place you're holidaying in.  We've done walking holidays too and believe me 25km on a bike is much easier than 25km on foot!

2. It builds a healthy appetite

Well I'm known for having a healthy appetite anyway but on this holiday we ate very well. The German cuisine features a lot of pork and of course the sausages or the wurst. Not only does cycling build a healthy appetite but you're also burning calories too. It's a win win situation.

3. It helps you sleep well

I'm attributing the good sleep I had on holiday to the exercise I'd taken during the day. After a full day of cycling, new experiences and a hearty evening meal I was ready for my bed and not only that my sleep quality was better too.  So much so that I was ready to do it all again the next day!

4. It gives a sense of accomplishment

Whether it's the distance, going up or down hills or mastering the gears on your bike, when you've done what you've set out to achieve it's brilliant - there really is no better feeling. When I started cycling again earlier this year there was no way I thought I'd be able to take my hands off the handlebars while I'm cycling. But I do - well not both at once - as I'm a lot more relaxed and confident on my bike (and on my German hire bike)

5. It's fun!

Honestly it is, it's not like running that sounds fun until you, well until you start running!  You're in charge of how fast you go and there's nothing like the feeling of going downhill with the wind in your hair. It's doubly nice if you're somewhere warm as it's a great way to cool down - but don't forget your suntan lotion as cycling is also a great way to catch the sun!

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The people at James Villas also think holiday cycling is a good thing and they've put together some cycling guides for five of their destinations. So if you're in or going to the Algarve, Cyprus, Lanzarote, Mallorca or Menorca then take a look; for each destination there's an infographic showing a beginner, intermediate and advanced route so you can choose which one suits you best. Three are available now and the others will be available throughout this month.

And don't just take it from me, Olympic Gold Medallist Nicole Cooke has also been talking to James Villas and sharing her top tips for cycling on holiday, so what are you waiting for? Get on your bike and do some holiday cycling!

 

 

 Disclosure: this is a collaborative post. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

 

Checking back in with the garden & the allotment

One of the first things I do when I get back from holiday, after I've wandered through every room of the house is to check to see what's been going on in the garden. I like to see what's flowering, what's finished and to check on my veg to see if they've survived. 

This year was no different and before the kettle went on for that oh so important first cup of tea I was out in the garden armed with my iPhone to find out how the garden had coped without me.

It'd actually done quite well, but there were a few surprises for me too...

SWEET PEAS

SWEET PEAS

The sweet peas had doubled their height, which is what I expected them to do - and it was good to see the flowers are starting to form. Then I spotted something exciting - the agapanthus has a flower too, it's not out yet but it's the closest we've got to a flower from these year-old plants. So it's very exciting, in a plant kind of way.  

AGAPANTHUS

AGAPANTHUS

The new clematis I bought earlier in the year has also started to flower, and it does have rather shy deep purple flowers.

CLEMATIS

CLEMATIS

The alliums that flowered the day I went to Bristol have now finished, but are still looking elegant and add some height to the small bed that runs alongside the patio.

ALLIUM

ALLIUM

The schizanthus from Annie's seed swap were flowering - aren't they pretty? And you can see why they're often known as angel's wings or butterfly plants - they're on the shadier side of the garden, but that makes them look even more dramatic.

SCHIZANTHUS

SCHIZANTHUS

And then even more excitement.

My long wait for a red hot poker could be almost over, and it's been a long time coming! This plant is a couple of years old now and last year it was disappointing, I think the snails and slugs got to the flowers before I even spotted them. But this one looks strong and it may just make it. I'm putting that down to the mulch I gave it earlier this year after I saw the series on South African plants on Gardeners World. 

RED HOT POKER IN THE MAKING

RED HOT POKER IN THE MAKING

Further up the garden there was a blast of blue - and a rather unkempt one at that. I'd clearly not tied these Canterbury Bells tightly enough. They're back under control now though.

UNRULY CANTERBURY BELLS

UNRULY CANTERBURY BELLS

Another first. The peony was flowering - it was flopping too, not surprisingly as it is a bit of a whopper. 

A WHOPPER OF A PEONY

A WHOPPER OF A PEONY

And the mock orange is out too, we'd seen - and smelt - some in Munich's green spaces and wondered if ours was out. It is and it definitely fills the end of the garden with scent.

MOCK ORANGE

MOCK ORANGE

The black elder is also flowering, the more usual one is as well but that's taller than the fence and rather unsportingly the flowers all face away from our garden!

SAMBUCCA NIGER

SAMBUCCA NIGER

In the greenhouse the relative of the ginormous Norfolk geranium was doing its best to rival its predecessor, but it was outdone by the amaryllis which shares the same pot. Why have all these plants decided to flower while I've been away?

AMARYLLIS AND VARIGATED GERANIUM

AMARYLLIS AND VARIGATED GERANIUM

My tomato farm - that's my pet name for my many tomato plants - had also done well. As they were still quite small I'd dug the pots into the raised beds under the cherry tree and hoped they'd be ok. They were looking a little thirsty, but nothing a good soaking wouldn't fix. It's really not on for the weather to be good when I'm away!

Although I guess if it hadn't been so nice then I wouldn't have had these strawberries...

STRAWBERRIES

STRAWBERRIES

As well as checking out the garden, this year I also wanted to pop over to the allotment to see how the plants there had coped. We'd spent a day there digging just before we went away and I'd planted tomatoes, dill, sweet peas, lavender cuttings, a pumpkin, some more schizanthus and sown some runner and broad beans.

So I wasn't quite expecting to discover an artichoke, but it seems I've inherited one amongst the grass. 

A GRASSY ARTICHOKE

A GRASSY ARTICHOKE

As I was checking the plants, which were fine - MOH called over and asked where our hose was. And he was right it wasn't there, I'm hopeful it'll turn up but I expect it may not and I'll be sourcing another one before too long. That's increased my resolve to get some lockable storage on the plot sooner rather than later as it's not much fun carrying everything we need each time we visit. 

 

So with everything in the garden and on the allotment watered and recovering and I like to think pleased we were back, it was time to get some more of the allotment cleared and ready for the brassicas I'd ordered. It's completely normal to order plants while you're away isn't it?

We cleared a section approximately 10ft x 5ft - measured by me laying down (seriously), forked in some compost and set about planting the five cabbages and five purple sprouting broccoli plants that arrived in the post the day we arrived home.  That's planning hey!?

BRASSICAS

BRASSICAS

I already had a couple of lengths of white tubing and an old hula hoop was cut in half and put to good use alongside these to give my tunnel more support. Then with some new netting thrown over the top my brassicas were ready to do their thing... I was quite pleased with my engineering prowess, let's hope the foxes aren't too intrigued by it. 

NETTED BRASSICAS

NETTED BRASSICAS

So everything in the garden - and the allotment - coped perfectly well without us which is great, but it did mean that the next job on my list was to tackle the holiday washing. And that's never so great, is it?