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Brewing - Castles & Palaces

Scottish castles you can actually rent in real life

After my stay at Hever Castle I’ve been meaning to book another overnight stay at a castle. For a bit of inspiration, here’s 5 fairy-tale castles in real life you can rent with Scotts Castle Holidays.

Now I need the right occasion to rent out one for a weekend or maybe even a workstation.

Blairquhan Castle, Ayrshire – Located in the beautiful Maybole countryside of South Ayrshire, Blairquhan castle is a Regency-era property with over 2000 acres of land. With a rich history spanning back hundreds of years, the Blairquhan Castle provides the perfect regal escape for large groups or families

Thirlestane Castle, Roxburghshire – This striking 16th-century property is nestled in the peaceful  landscape of the Scottish borders. Boasting a total of 8 bedrooms split over 5 apartments, this historic castle is more than fit for royalty. Each apartment is individually and uniquely decorated to a 5-star  standard with views of the beautiful parkland estate.

Baronial Castle, Argyllshire – With an amazing 7 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, this picturesque white,  turreted castle on the West coast of Scotland could be your next luxury retreat. Built in the 18th century, it is elegant yet traditional, and offers an ideal location for weddings.

Fenton Tower, East Lothian – Fenton Tower offers unrivalled luxury accommodation in East Lothian.  Located just 20 miles from Edinburgh, the fortified 16th-century tower is the ideal private castle  holiday. Enjoy a family meal in the grand dining room, relax in one of the 7 regal bedrooms, and  enjoy the peaceful surroundings in this truly fairy-tale property.

Closeburn Castle, Dumfriesshire – If you’re looking for a place with history, look no further than the  14th-century Closeburn Castle; one of the oldest continually inhabited houses in Scotland. Not only is  the property itself steeped in history, but it’s located just 1km from the quaint village of Closeburn in  the historic county of Dumfriesshire – the perfect spot for a country escape.


Scotts Castle Holidays offer a range of locations  – from historically rich to sleek and modern, all of them perfect option for anyone seeking a UK retreat with a  twist.



7 Movies To Watch Before Visiting Ireland

Today we look how Ireland has been portrayed on the screen.

Brooklyn (2015)

Based on the award winning novel by Colm Tôibín, Brooklyn tells the story of Eilis (Saoirse Ronan), a young woman who uproots her life in Ireland and travels to Brooklyn to pursue new opportunities. Eilis finds love in her new life in the form of an Italian-American man called Tony, played by Emory Cohen. Due to an unforeseen family tragedy, Eilis is forced to return to Ireland where her past emerges and leaves her struggling to decide between her old and new life.

The Commitments (1991)

Alan Parker’s The Commitments follows the chaotic rise and fall of the Dublin Soul Band of which the film is named after.  Robert Arkins stars as Jimmy Rabbitte, an unemployed Dubliner who finds himself inspired to start his own band after becoming fed up with the local music scene. In the hopes of sounding like some of the great American soul musicians of the 1960s, Jimmy assembles a band. By recruiting former musician Joey “The Lips” Fagan and sheer dedication to the cause, Jimmy successfully puts together an ensemble that brings the soul scene in Dublin to life. Unfortunately, disputes occur, tensions rise, and members fall out reminding us that not all good things last forever.

The Quiet Man (1952)

Retired boxer Sean Thornton (John Wayne) decides to leave Pittsburgh and return to his hometown in Ireland as an attempt to escape his past. After purchasing his childhood home, Sean’s attention is captured by a beautiful local girl, Mary Kate Danaher. Instantaneously he falls in love and begins courting her. However, Mary Kate is little sister to the ill-tempered and jealous “Red” Will Danaher, making Sean’s plan increasingly difficult. The town locals and Mary Kate try to convince Sean to use his former talent to resolve his problems with Will, complicating his efforts to disregard a dark moment from his old life.

My Left Foot (1989)

Jim Sheridan tackled the true story of Christy Brown in his Academy recognised film My Left Foot. Daniel Day-Lewis famously plays Christy, an Irish boy plagued with severe cerebral palsy and the ability to only control the movement of his left foot. The majority of the community write him off as intellectually disabled but with the help of his dedicated mother, teacher, and his own self-determination Christy is able to prove himself and become a talented painter, author, and poet.  Day-Lewis spent months in a cerebral palsy clinic to research this role and was rewarded with an Oscar for his efforts.

PS I Love You (2007)

Holly Kennedy (Hillary Swank) loses her husband to a horrible illness just before her thirtieth birthday, leaving her broken and lost. Gerry (Gerald Butler), the aforementioned love of Holly’s life, anticipated that his death would have an unwelcomed effect on his widowed spouse and planned ahead. Beginning on her 30th birthday, Holly receives a series of letters written by Gerry in an attempt to help her move on, all ending with the words, “PS. I love you.” Despite those closest to her thinking the letters are holding her to her past, with Gerry’s guidance Holly goes on a journey of rediscovery in this touching story of love and friendship.

Once (2007)

Set in the streets of Dublin, this incredibly original musical from John Carney depicts the power of music through a street musician (Glen Hansard) and his relationship with a Czech immigrant (Marketa Irglova). Together the pair uses music to fight their problems, work through the past, and find new love. Their songs portray the emotions they feel in a beautiful and romantic manner which happened to land the actors an Oscar award in 2007.

The Field (1990)

The Field is a classic tale of the struggle between old and new. Taking place in rural Ireland, Bull McCabe (Richard Harris) is a farmer with a passionate love for his land. However, when an American outside declares he wants to purchase the land to build a highway, it becomes worryingly likely that Bull will lose his field. Unwilling to go down without a fight, Bull will do anything in his power to prevent getting rid of his land. Jim Sheridan’s unforgettable film is a true testament to how far one would go for something they love and a poignant battle between the past and the future.



The most secret locations in Italy

When most people plan a trip to Italy, they’ll visit the more iconic landmarks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. They’ll see the Pantheon or the Colosseum. They’ll drift along the waters of Venice or look through Italian museums.

If you’d like to visit the more secret locations in Italy, then you’ll want to separate from the tourist crowds and visit some of these places:

1. Garden of Ninfa

Surprisingly peaceful, the private Garden of Ninfa is a highlight of Italian design. This beautiful landscaped garden can be found in central Italy and is home to ancient trees and medieval ruins as well as a vast array of colourful flowers – both exotic and native.

The Garden of Ninfa is only open on select days from April to November.

2. Sacro Bosco

Known as the ‘Park of the Monsters’, Sacro Bosco – or the Garden of Bomarzo – was commissioned by Prince Orsini. The park is a physical expression of the prince’s grief, for friends lost in the war and his wife who died whilst he was away fighting.

This Italian garden is known as the Park of the Monsters because of the large stone figures and faces that you’ll see as you’re walking through it. The most famous of these is a screaming face, with a mouth that you can walk inside to find a sheltered picnic table.

3. Cocullo (in May)

Cocullo is always a beautiful place to visit, and not usually an over-crowded tourist destination. But, in May, this Abruzzo town becomes the location of an interesting festival.

The Festa dei Serpari is one of the highlights of Cocullo’s calendar and celebrates Saint Dominic with a statue of his likeness paraded through the town.

Every year, before this parade, snake-catchers are hard at work. When the snakes come out of hibernation, they’re caught for this Italian parade. Then, they’re draped on the statue as live decorations in one of Europe’s oldest, most unusual festivals. If you’re in Italy in May, this is an event worth your time.

4. Lake Resia

Lake Resia is fascinating and beautiful – a hidden gem in northern Italy. Below the surface of the water lies two towns and a number of small villages flooded intentionally by the local energy company. The only remaining sign of the towns below the waters is a bell tower that sticks out, once part of the church in Graun.

This is an amazing sight at any time of year. But, visit in the coldest months and you may be able to walk on the frozen lake. Many people walk over to the bell tower.

5. Alberobello

For unusual architecture in a quiet location, plan a visit to Alberobello. This town is becoming a more popular sight but is still fairly secret and best to be enjoyed before it becomes more well-known. Alberobello’s special because it’s the home of quirky white houses with conical roofs, each adorned with a symbol. Nobody knows for sure why the homes were built in such an unusual way, though it’s thought that they could have been constructed to be easily dismantled if tax inspectors came to charge property tax. The symbol on the roof of each house had personal family meaning, or would often have been a sign of the zodiac or a religious mark intended to ward off bad luck and evil.

Many houses are now shops and restaurants, protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Which of these amazing secret locations it Italy would you most like to visit?


Afternoon Tea Week in London: 5 Best Spots

London loves a good afternoon tea, whether it is boozy or not, and with Afternoon Tea Week (that’s 8th-14th August in case you haven’t market it yet) fast approaching Londoners will be excited about having an excuse to eat naughty delicious treats.

There are a number of places that are celebrating Afternoon Tea Week in style with an enchanting array of sweet and savory delights and teapots full to the brim with all sorts of cocktails.

Bingham Rose Afternoon Tea

The Bingham
Afternoon tea lovers adore the Bingham’s quintessentially British afternoon tea from the comfort of the bar. It themes delicate sandwiches, scones, cakes and patisseries served with a special selection of 11 loose leaf teas from British tea advocate, Canton. Diners can also treat themselves to glass of champagne with their afternoon tea.
The Bingham, Richmond’s riverside destination restaurant, bar and boutique hotel is a chic independent, family run getaway for those looking for a slice of the countryside within the city.The Bingham, a beautifully restored Georgian townhouse originally built in 1821, is situated on the banks of the river Thames in the heart of Richmond.

The Little Yellow Door

The Little Yellow Door
This summer the pop-up that wont close its doors is launching its very first cocktail tea party in the heart of Notting Hill. London’s most loved flat mates at The Little Yellow Door will be throwing their yellow door open on Saturday afternoons to host, a Notting Hill Cocktail Tea Party. Expect alcohol infused pots of tea, finger sandwiches and a variety of traditionally British board games to choose from.
Guests will be welcomed through the door by a bohemian host, before sipping on alcoholic teapots which include Tea with Mussolini, a Bacardi Blanca rum infused chamomile tea with pomegranate and blueberries, while tucking into a selection of finger sandwiches and cakes including Chocolate brownies with malt cream.


Guests will be whisked away from the hustle and bustle of Soho to the underground sensation Cahoots, to enjoy a splendid Squiffy Picnic, complete with wicker picnic hampers filled to the brim with delightfully British cuisine and cocktails circa 1946. Upon arrival, the stationmaster will greet guests with a refreshing Sipsmith Summer Cup Cocktail before heading down the apples and pears. Guests can sift through the fancy dress box before sitting at their picnic tables laden with a tartan blanket, flowers and a dedicated hamper menu that pays homage to food and cocktail favourites from post-war Britain. Guests have the option of three different hampers, all of which are packed with scrumptious fare and delightful tipples for the ideal picnic experience.

Mr Foggs Residence 4

Mr Fogg’s Residence
Acclaimed Mayfair bar, Mr Fogg’s will bring a real slice of tradition infused with elegance to London with their Victorian themed afternoon Tipsy Tea. Guests can enjoy a delicate array of dainty sandwiches, cakes, pastries and petiits-fours. Beautifully presented on traditional three-tiered stands and served on embossed fine bone china, delights will include; cucumber, coronation chicken, moked salmon, and cheese and ham sandwiches, Victoria sponge, lemon drizzle cake, meringue tarts, macaroons, marzipan and glacé fruits.An innovative range of tea-infused cocktails served in teapots will offer a novel twist on this quintessentially English pasttime. Refreshing libations will include; 1840; a ingy blend of Earl Grey-infused Tanqueray No. TEN Gin, Cointreau, crème de pêche and orange marmalade. And for those who prefer an indulgent champagne cocktail with their tea sample the Anna Maria Russell, made with Tatratea liqueur, sloe gin, lemon bitters, and topped with Ruinart Champagne.

Mr Fogg's Tavern

Mr Fogg’s Tavern
Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour has recently launched Saturday afternoon G & Tea, where guests can indulge in their love of gin by sampling a selection of more than 300 varieties before embarking on their afternoon tea sojourn. Guests will enjoy a selection of homemade and authentically Victorian sweet and savoury delicacies alongside a selection of refreshing gin tea.


Eurotrip 101: Lisbon For Beginners

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Next destination on our 101 series is Lisbon. Delicious food, budget-friendly and unique attractions… Lisbon is a city you shouldn’t skip on your Eurotrip. Here are six stops you need to make.

Monument to the Discoveries
You can’t miss this 52-metre high white stone behemoth if you’re in Belem. The Padrão dos Descobrimentos – or the Monument to the Discoveries – is a tribute to 33 Portuguese who were what we would now call an ‘influencer’ in the Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries. You can’t miss it as it’s basically the temple/shrine for all travellers

Impress your travel buddy with this tale: the monument was originally built as part of the Portuguese World Fair in 1940 – but, they hired a cheap contractor so it needed rebuilding and in 1960 they renovated it using concrete to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator.

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Belém Tower
While you are there, who not go to the Belém Tower. The UNESCO World Heritage Site played a big role in a number of Portuguese maritime discoveries during the Age of Discovery and if the location scouts for that famous HBO fantasy show haven’t got this down for a series 7 backdrop then they need firing.

Impress your travel buddy with this tale: the tower was built in the 16th century with two purposes: to act as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon and to be a part of the country’s defence system at the mouth of the Tagus river. So it was beautiful and functional – the perfect combo!

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St George’s Castle
or Castelo de São Jorge is one of the most popular attractions of the city and ‘they’ say that a visit to Lisbon is not complete without heading here. I haven’t been inside but still felt complete so ‘they’ might not be right. The castle sits atop of a hill in the centre allowing your eyeballs to feast on the most beautiful view over Lisbon.

Want to impress your travel buddy?  Wander around the narrow streets, follow the sounds of Fado and find a traditional tavern and down a shot (or two) of Ginginha.

Praca do Comércio
In the centre of Lisbon is Praça do Comércio, the largest square in Lisbon where you can sit down and do some people spotting, where a lot of people will offer you drugs and from where you can catch most trams and buses in the city.

Impress your travel buddy with this tale: the place is also known as the Terreiro do Paço, which means Palace Square, as way-way back the Royal Palace was standing on the square, but it was destroyed in 1755 by a massive earthquake – but don’t worry the King at the time was away on ‘holiday’ – how convenient…

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The Lisbon Cathedral
The Lisbon Cathedral is located in the district Sé and is also known as Sé de Lisboa and Igreja de Santa Maria Maior and it was the first church of the city. Despite it being God’s penthouse, the massive 1755 earthquake didn’t spare this place either. Luckily the subsequent reconstruction resurrected the place so it still looks worthy of a visit.

Want to impress your travel buddy?  Go to the Cathedral at dusk – the bricks shine like gold and look beyond impressive.

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Elevador de Santa Justa
This elevator probably tops all ‘’coolest elevators existing’’ lists. Yes, I’m trying, like Aerosmith to make elevators cool again. It is located in the centre of the city and connects the Santa Justa Street to the Carmoplein. Once at the top, there is a great view over the centre of Lisbon. Which is probably the reason it’s one of the most visited places of the city.

Want to impress your travel buddy? Tell them the architect of the elevator was a student of Gustav Eiffel, you know … the guy who designed that little tower in Paris, y’know, Eiffel?

Did I miss anything off from Lisbon?