by Janis / 0 comments - Orginally published:27th December 2019

A review of our year

A year disappears so fast, and often Gary and I reflect and reminisce about the incredible places that we’ve visited or the experiences we’ve shared together. So, writing a post like this is not only cathartic to us, it also jogs our little grey cells.

It's about the adventures we embarked upon, the lessons we learnt, and hopefully, inspire you for your travels.

The Pin image of our post - 'Our 2019; full of memories to last a lifetime'
Why not Pin it for later?
Standing by the lakeside looking north to the small town of Torbole.
A road trip around Lake Garda, Italy

Stay informed

Why not subscribe to our monthly newsletter for some travel inspiration, some tips and find out what we've been up to?
Or alternatively, why not follow us on your favourite social media channel?

The streets of London

For our annual pilgrimage

It’s become a bit of a tradition for us, staying in London for a couple of nights in January. It’s a little hit and miss with the weather but, to be perfectly honest, the same could be said for the UK in July.

A shot of the historic wine merchants in the t James region of the West End of London. Berry brothers and Rudd are one of britain's oldest family run businesses.

Berry Bros & Rudd, St James's, London

We spent a couple of hours at Greenwich in and around the markets. Greenwich is a town I love, not just because it was where I was born, although that does sway me a bit, also it has some fascinating history.

The food stall offering slow cooked barbecue sandwiches in Greenwich market being operated out of an old Citroen van

Greenwich Market, London

During our trip, we also visited the captivating little regions of Smithfield, Clerkenwell and St James. Strolling through London’s enticing alleys and lanes, you find that one district seamlessly flows into another.

The southern entrance to the historic Smithfield meat market in the east of London

Main Avenue in Smithfield Meat Market, London

Dedicating time to each area you truly unearth some quirky snippets, that so often go unnoticed. I found the gritty meat market district of Smithfield so intriguing. From the site where William Wallace was hung to his death, to the Zeppelin bullet holes on the side of St Bartholomew’s Hospital.
A short hop from Smithfield and you are now in the honed quarter of Clerkenwell. I don’t think the Artful Dodger would recognise it anymore, with its refurbed taverns and tempting al fresco dining.

A street scene from Clerkenwell, East London, featuring the Crown Tavern and church in the background.

Clerkenwell, London

We also travelled west and discovered all the little nooks and crannies around St James, another fascinating part of the city.
Some of you may recall my fascination with historical cemeteries. Well, visiting London enabled me to tick off another two of the ‘Magnificent Seven’.
Yep, on a crisp January morn, I dragged Gary around West Norwood and Nunhead cemeteries. I’m sure he enjoyed it, really.

If you've yet to discover London and its ancient history, then let's start planning. I find these DK Eyewitness Travel Guides invaluable. They're extremely informative, easy to follow, and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more of those fascinating sites.

You can now grab a recently revised copy of this guidebook, so you won't miss a thing.

Days out

Discovering what's close to us

During the winter and early spring months, if the timing is right, you can snatch some beautifully crisp bright days around the UK. We were guests of the Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent and with thoughtful planning we chose a delightful spring day amongst all their nautical exhibits.

A view from the Historic Dockyard Chatham with HMS Gannet moored in a dry dock in front of #3 slip.

Historic Chatham Dockyard, Kent

Living in the south-east of England we also handpicked sometime to venture to the seaside. So, armed with our metaphorical bucket and spade, we visited Margate, Deal, Hythe and Sandwich.

Two small varnished natural wood boats on the pebble beach of Deal in Kent in front of The English Channel

Deal, Kent

If you're intrigued by Kent's weird and wonderful history, or all unusual stories around the county, then take a peek at "Kent's Strangest Tales".

You won't be able to put it down, you can pick it up for your Kindle or in good old paperback.

Africa was calling

Well, Zimbabwe to be exact

We were invited to a family wedding in Zimbabwe’s capital city of Harare but just couldn’t leave our ventures to one location.

A section of Victoria Falls main waterfall taken in mid-April during the high water season. Despite the blue skies you're guaranteed to get wet from the mist generated by the falls.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

So, after last visiting Zimbabwe 20 years ago, we had some catching up to do. Ok, so Victoria Falls hadn’t changed but, we just couldn’t resist embarking on more safari drives, which lead us to Hwange.
A close-up of a lone, male, bull, elephant in the Bush in Zimbabwe. The shot focuses on the upper part of the trunk, the eye, and part of his huge ear

On Safari, Zimbabwe,

As you may know, a trip for us wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t include jumping in a vehicle and discovering the open roads. Zimbabwe is a beautiful country; it may have its issues; however, it shouldn’t put you off visiting.

Looking across a busy junction at a colonial-era building that now houses the Bulawayo Art Gallery.

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

With our trusty 4x4, we hit the road and journeyed southwest to Zimbabwe’s second-largest city of Bulawayo and included a day around Matobo National Park. Matobo is an astonishing place, it so peaceful and almost feels spiritual. It’s also the last resting place of Cecil John Rhodes, at ‘World’s View’.

Worn granite boulders balanced high on the rock formation.

Matobo National Park, Zimbabwe

The other location that we drove to was Lake Kariba. This manmade lake borders Zambia in the north and is a place I would always recommend if visiting Zimbabwe. It truly is breath-taking, the wildlife in and around the lake are incredible, and you really need to respect your surroundings.

Golden light as the sun sets over Lake Kariba highlighting the petrified trees that protrude from the water in this unique landscape.

Sunset across Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe

If you're considering an adventure around Zimbabwe, then your in for a holiday of a lifetime. I always find it incredibly useful to plan our trips with the help of a guide book.

Take a look at this informative Bradt guide, it will give you great tips and advice.

A road trip across Europe

Lakes and lederhosen part II

A travel conference leads us to Trento in northern Italy. And never ones to pass up the opportunity of a road trip, we created our Lakes and Lederhosen part II route.

Café Italia in Piazza Duomo in the centre of Trento with green awnings covering the outdoor seating area with beautifully painted walls depicting classical Italian figures on the three storey renaissance building

Piazza Duomo, Trento, Italy

It included Molsheim, a very small taster of France in the Alsace region. Then further south into Italy. We spent a few days touring the waterside locations around Lake Garda, basing ourselves at Limone-Sul-Garda on the northwest side of this mountainous lake.

A view of the old town from our hotel balcony in the morning light with the church tower the focal point. The town is dwarfed by the mountains in the background.

Limone sul Garda, Lake Garda, Italy

After our blogging seminar, we couldn’t resist the chance of discovering more of Germany’s Bavarian delights. So, we added a week onto our trip and visited the half-timbered towns in this lush, picturesque region of the country.

A street scene focused on the fabulous half-timbered Goldene Rose Hotel with window boxes full of red flowers with tables and chairs outside.

Dinkelsbühl, Bavaria, Germany

Not only did our trip include visits to some of southern Germany’s attractive ancient towns. We also made a poignant stop at the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site just near Munich. Which was incredibly touching and a reminder to us at how lucky we are.

Ducks on the Dutzendteich Lake in front of the Nazi Party Congress Hall.

Nazi Party Congress Hall, Nuremberg’s Nazi Party Rally Grounds, Germany

Then a few days later we toured Nuremberg’s Nazi Party Rally Grounds, another incredibly interesting historical site.

Enjoying "bespoke" Hotels

Overnight stays

Gary and I were welcomed by “bespoke” Hotels to the White Horse in Dorking and also The Talbot Ripley. Which were both a pleasure to stay at, after our Ripley visit, we then spent a day at RHS Garden Wisley, which are a pleasure to visit all year round.

Looking along the Jellicoe canal lily pond, past its fountain, to the Tudor building, now known as The Laboratory.

RHS Wisley gardens, Surrey, England

Bustronome in London

Culinary sightseeing

In September we were invited by Bustronome on a sightseeing tour around the historic streets of London. Although, it was so much more than an enjoyable guided tour. Settled into the luxurious glass-roofed bus, we were served a delicious 4-course gourmet lunch.

The view from Westminster Bridge to the old County Hall and the London Eye.

The views from Bustronome in London are stunning

It is such a great concept and one we highly recommend.

A large piece of British History

A battle in Battle

To make the most of our English Heritage membership, we visited the historical battlefields of the Battle of Hastings which took place in 1066, in Battle (just near Hastings).

The view of the back of a carved wooden statue of a Norman Soldier overlooking the green rolling landscape of the battlefield at Battle with the Abby in the distance.

Scene of the 1066 Battle of Hastings, East Sussex

Located in such a beautiful part of the East Sussex countryside, it’s hard to believe the bloodshed that took place just in one day between King Harold and William the Conqueror. It was to become one of the most important battles in English history.

A visit to a Winery


The Kent countryside is slowly becoming competitors with the Champagne region of France, and lush vineyards are being planted strategically all around the county.

A view outside an antique shop looking down the tree lined High Street

Tenterden High Street, Kent

As a treat, Gary and I headed to Tenterden and joined a tour and tasting at the Chapel Down Vineyards in the heart ‘Garden of England’. I must admit the sparkling wines are delightful, but the tour was incredibly informative too.

A view of the giant oak next to one of the plots in Chapel Down. This ones vines are producing the Bacchus variety.

Chapel Down Wine Tasting Tour, Tenterden, Kent

Tempted to?

Discover more of the Great British Isles, why not jump in a car and tour the country at your own pace. You can do it all on a road trip, Rental Cars cover all budgets and allow you to pick up and drop off at different destinations.

North Germany road trip

Discovering 3 beautiful locations

Our love of Germany continued in 2019; however, this time, we headed north. Aachen, Hamburg & Münster welcomed us with open arms.

The front of the Rathaus at dusk, with the statue of Charlemagne on the right.

Aachen's Rathaus at night, Germany

Our road trip started in Aachen where we were hosted by Aachen Tourist Service. Aachen has so much history it is incredible. Emperor Charlemagne played a huge part in putting Aachen on the map, along with the Romans and the ancient hot springs. The 1st-century UNESCO Cathedral is a ‘must see’.

The view of the Dom at dusk from the rear steps of the Rathaus. The square between the two building is home of the cities main Christmas market.

Aachen cathedral at dusk, Germany

Venturing further north, we visited the eclectic city of Hamburg. We were invited by Hamburg Marketing. It’s such a diverse city, Gary and I loved it there.

A view from the neo-gothic St Nikolai-church tower across the Rathaus to the been Binnenalster and beyond. On the right of the frame is a gargoyle, part of the tower structure.

A view of Hamburg's Rathaus and beyond, Germany

Being a port city, it has a vast, bustling harbour and just nearby here is the Speicherstadt (warehouse district). This area has seen an amazing regeneration over recent years. Popping up to the free viewing gallery in Elbphilharmonie is highly recommended.

A view of the Speicherstadt warehouse district of Hamburg at dusk. You look down the canal to the water castle with red brick buildings on either side with illuminated balconies.

An iconic view of Hamburg, Germany

Last but by no means least, our German road trip ended in Münster. Where we were hosted by Münster Marketing.

The silhouette of two women in Café 1648 enjoying the 12th-floor panoramic view of St.-Paulus-Dom.

Enjoying the view over Münster, Germany

This was another fascinating city, with so much ancient history. Münster is a reasonably small city which is part of its charm, and the locals were so friendly. The Prinzipalmarkt is lined with imposing gabled houses, along which is also the Gothic city hall and late medieval St. Lamberti Church. Look out for the cages on the outside of the church, as thereby hangs a tale.

I love nothing more than planning a trip and so often I use the DK Eyewitness books.  I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our Germany road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.

Making the most of the UK

A few more days out

Although we live in Kent, we so often pass through quaint little villages en-route to another destination. So rarely stopping by and having a stroll around to see what’s on our doorstep. We decided to rectify that and jumped in our trusty steed for a Kent road trip.

A half-timbered home, probably dating from the Tudor period, on the outskirts of the village of Smarden, Kent

The vilage of Smarden, Kent, England

This region of England is steeped in so much history, whether it’s the location of being so close to mainland Europe, I’m not too sure. With not too much digging, we found out the influence that the Flemish cloth makers had on the county. Not only did this profession become a flourishing industry but they also introduced the charming half-timbered cloth halls to the region.

A view of Viking Bay as it sweeps around towards the harbour. On the left hand side you can see the lift What takes you to and from the promenade. also stretched out along the sea front you can see the bathing cabins.

Viking Bay, Broadstairs, Kent, England

On crisp autumnal days, I love visiting the seaside. Kent is trying so hard to give its coastal towns a regeneration. We’ve visited a few this year that you can genuinely see progress is being made in Broadstairs and Ramsgate.
A view of with boats in Folkestone Harbour with a pink version of Holiday Home – By Richard Woods in the centre.

Folkestone Harbour, Kent, England

However, the seaside town that astounded me the most was Folkestone. The harbour arm and the old harbour railway station has been transformed into a welcoming communal area for all the family. It’s now such an enjoyable place to visit, what I loved the most was the urban outdoor exhibition of contemporary art.

The old Folkestone Harbour station, signal box and Customs House. Freshly pained and repurposed as an entrance to the Harbour Arm with bars and restaurants. The centre of the tracks has now been replanted with a garden, but many of the original features remain.

Folkestone old Harbour station, Kent, England

It’s good to talk!

Share with us your memorable moments of 2019 and drop us a comment below.

London at Christmas

Because it offers a little magic

We reluctantly gave visiting the Christmas markets in Germany a miss this year, after 12 consecutive years. Therefore, to provide us with the ho ho ho for 2019 we headed up to London a couple of times.

The Natural History museum's ice rink at dusk with the Victorian building that houses the museum in the background. The trees surrounding the rink are decorated with thousands of fairy lights.

The Natural History Museum’s ice rink, London at Christmas

Firstly, to the West End to see the twinkling streets and the stylishly decorated shop fronts, along Old Bond Street.

A side view of the Harrods Department store decorated with hundreds of small lights and a pair of Christmas trees above the main entrance.

Harrods, London at Christmas

Then we headed back up towards the Tower of London and along the Southbank of the River Thames. There’s a delightful little Christmas market along here, and I can’t help having a wander around Hay’s Galleria, even more, yuletide fun.

Stalls of Christmas by the River Market with the Shard in the background

Christmas cabins along the River Thames, London at Christmas

So that's it for 2019

What will 2020 hold?
It has been another excellent year, and we have created so many everlasting memories. What adventures lie in store for 2020?

* This post may contain links to affiliated sites where we earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.

Share this post

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.