Austin, Blog, Daily

Tropical Paradise in The Heart of Austin

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Lake Austin Spa is an oasis on Lake Austin in gorgeous Austin, Texas! Catch it on a warm Spring or Summer day and you’ll have an almost tropical experience you won’t soon forget.

With crystal blue waters, the lake looks positively enticing as you sit and relax by the pool or on the patio in what can be the blistering heat of the Spring and Summer months.

I personally think this is a fabulous photo shoot location for aspiring models and actresses who are needing new headshots in an uplifting environment. I love the interior design, and the background of the water is just fabulous!

Lake Austin Spa Resort is tucked away in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. It has been ranked the #1 Resort in Texas & the Southwest by Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards.

Tucked away in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, our all-inclusive luxury spa resort offers a truly unique experience, where we cater to your well-being and provide a sanctuary for rest and renewal. – website

Join them on Twitter, Facebook + Instagram.


+ It’s accommodation includes beautifully designed guest rooms, with all-inclusive packages for guests who wish to enjoy gourmet meals, fitness activities and luxury spa treatments along with that.

+ They have 2,3,4,5,6 or 7-night packages available with various room options.

+ They often host expert guest speakers who come to discuss a variety of topics. Conference scheduling can be viewed here.

+ They offer various health & fitness classes, including yoga and cooking demonstrations. View their calendar here.

+ They have delicious resort dining which offers guests various healthy options to enjoy in between treatments. I had the grilled atlantic salmon with fingerling potatoes, fava beans, lemon salsa and the satureja herb cream. See the entire menu here.

Lake Austin Spa
The view at reception
Lake Austin Spa
Snacks are laid out daily
Crystal infused water
Vita Juwel is a new company I discovered while staying here!

Lake Austin Spa

The Conservatory Garden House is stunning

Orange honeysuckle decorates the pergola
Blog, Clarens

In The Heart of The Maluti Mountains

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Travel South Africa: Clarens

Highlight On Clarens

I’m still doing my ‘Travel Throwbacks’ blog series, and today’s post is about a charming town in the heart of South Africa that’s causing quite a stir on the culture map, for its chain of new pop-up boutiques, small business and trendy outdoor events.

Clarens is a small town situated in the foothills of The Maluti Mountains in the Free State province of South Africa and nicknamed the “Jewel of the Eastern Free State“. It was established in 1912 and named after the town of Clarens in Switzerland where exiled Paul Kruger spent his last days.

I stayed at this adorable quaint guesthouse while I was there for the weekend.

Things To Do In Clarens

  1. Golden Gate Highlands National Park
  2. Bushmen Art at Schaaplaats Farm
Corkscrew Willow Tree
Corkscrew Willow Tree
Millpond Guest House
Serene Millpond Guest House at the foot of the mountains
Millpond Guest House
White roses
Millpond Guest House
Lounge/Dining area
Millpond House
Our room for the weekend
Garden view
African sun
Ducks crossing a nearby road
Blog, Johannesburg

Brunch in South Africa

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The Saxon Johannesburg South Africa Brunch
I enjoy a purple macaroon – one of many tasty treats on offer at The Saxon Hotel in South Africa

This post is for the foodies! Seeing as I’m into the second week of my travel series doing throwbacks to awesome travels last year, I figured I would include this.

Highlight on The Saxon Hotel Brunch, South Africa

At the heart of the City of Gold, beneath the warm sunshine in the opulent, tree-lined suburb of Sandhurst, lies the enchanting Saxon Hotel.

A uniquely perfect blend of rich cultural history and contemporary five-star service, the Saxon is situated on ten acres of magnificent indigenous gardens, providing a private and peaceful retreat like no other.

One of the leading hotels of the world, The Saxon Hotel offers a Sunday brunch in its opulent “Qunu” room or on its Fig Terrace every Sunday from 11:30am-2:30pm.

They have a unique Springbok, Egg + Parma Ham main dish – with South African Springbok meat a popular choice for tourists!

Full menu here.

Brunch includes: a delicious cold buffet with all you can imagine, a plated main meal and the renowned dessert assortment expertly prepared by the Pastry team.

African ornaments adorn the tables
The hotel reception
The enticing entrance to the Qunu room where brunch is held
Four leaf clover cappuccino
The Saxon Johannesburg South Africa Brunch
24K gold flakes on the desserts
Purple macaroons on a bed of chocolate

Mozambique Prawns
The Saxon Johannesburg South Africa Brunch
Delicious, healthy buffet table
The Saxon Johannesburg South Africa Brunch
I chose the oven-roasted seabass, charred octopus, warm panzanella salad of white anchovies, slow-roasted tomatoes, croutons and artichoke puree
Blog, Ghost Walks

A Ghost Walk in…York

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Sunset in York
Sun setting in York, England, as I start my ghost walk. Taken nearby where Guy Fawkes – the famous gunpowder plot conspirator – was born

I like to do a ghost walk in every city I visit. I’ve done so many + I expect I’ll do more… which is why I’m starting a ghost series on this blog for suggestions + tips for the spookiest activities I find – perhaps in a city near you! My most memorable ghost walks have been in Charleston, Denver, Washington, San Antonio, Boulder, New York and York (arguably the bloodiest history of them all!). Above, a photo as I began my walk on a warm summer evening last year.

I also find it fascinating visiting cemeteries and graveyards in different cities – the most memorable being where Margaret Mitchell (author of Gone With The Wind) is buried in Atlanta. See pictures here of her tombstone.

I can say I have only been haunted once (extremely scary) in Leadville, Colorado. It was at The Delaware Hotel ($130 a night). I also had a creepy experience at The Stanley Hotel in Boulder (where The Shining was written – linked above).


Blog, Oxford

A Sunny Day in Oxford

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Randolph Hotel, Oxford

The architecture of its 38 colleges in the city’s medieval center led poet Matthew Arnold to nickname it the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’.

On Your To-Do List

+ Where the famous “Oxford Martyrs” were hanged in Oxford in 1555 + 1556. The three martyrs were the Anglican bishops Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and Thomas Cranmer (the Archbishop of Canterbury). They were tried for heresy in 1555 and burnt at the stake for their religious beliefs and teachings. Latimer and Ridley were burnt on 16 October 1555. Cranmer was burnt five months later on 21 March 1556

+ The “Great Hall” from Harry Potter at Christ Church College

+ Christ Church Meadow, beside Christ Church Cathedral. Uniquely in the Church of England, it serves as both College Chapel and Mother Church for the Diocese of Oxford.

+ Alice in Wonderland Sweet Shop – buy your own Alice in Wonderland pop-up book at my Etsy shop here

+ St Michael’s Tower, oldest in Oxford

*Check out quirky photos from Oxford in my other post here

Amazing Facts About Oxford

Oxford has more published writers per square mile than anywhere else in the world!

Best selling authors with links to Oxford include:

+ Lewis Carroll, 1832-1898 – author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass as well as the poems The Hunting of the Snark and Jabberwocky.

+ JRR Tolkein, 1892-1973 – author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

+ CS Lewis, 1898-1963 – author of The Chronicles of Narnia. CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien were close friends and both were Dons at Oxford University. They were also part of the Oxford literary group known as the ‘Inklings’ who could commonly be found discussing literature in the Eagle and Child and Lamb and Flag pubs on St Giles during their time in Oxford.

Photos Around Oxford Below

  • Oxford College
  • Oxford Gardens
  • Randolph Hotel
  • Christchurch Meadow
  • Broad Street
  • St. Michael’s Tower
  • Radcliffe Camera
  • Oxford pub “Chequers”

Explore Oxford CollegeRandolph Hotel, Oxford, Birthday treatsChristchurch OxfordChristchurch OxfordPubs in Oxford The CrownOld buildings OxfordGhost Tours OxfordGhost Tours OxfordMuseum at St Michael's Tower, Oxford19Bell Tower St Michael's church The Oxford MartyrsView from Michael's TowerOxford College Oxford CollegeOxford College OxfordJasmine Spritzer OxfordRadcliffe Camera OxfordGardens Oxford HydrangeasGardens OxfordHarry Potter HallChristchurch MeadowEnjoying Oxford College Gardens

Blog, York

The Treasurer’s House, York

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Treasurer's House, York

A Hidden Gem in The Heart of York

Step through 2,000 years of history with one visit to this house of dreams, where rooms are set up and furnished to mirror the grand styles from medieval times to the early 1900’s.


Opposite the spectacular York Minster Cathedral, and nearby the iconic Shambles in the city center of York, lies “The Treasurer’s House”. Named after the treasurer of York Minster and built over a Roman road.  It dates back to 1091. The gardens are absolutely thriving in summer and access to the York City Wall is nearby.

York Minster

York Walls

York Walls

Original stained glass window Treasurer's House, York


Blog, York

A Peek Inside A Norman Castle!

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Clifford's Tower

This week I’m running a series of throwback travel adventures from trips I took in 2018. I’ve written about my time at Middlethorpe Hall – an elegant country house in York – as well as trips I took to York + Oxford in England. Coming up are adventures I had in Lesotho – a self-enclosed Kingdom within the borders of South Africa – as well as New York and Newport, Rhode Island.

Today is all about an outstanding castle in York – a Norman castle with a bloody past built by William the Conqueror. I hope you enjoy this article + please give requests or feedback – any specific travel destinations you want me to write about? Through the last 10 years I’ve give you photos and travel tips + info on over 52 cities – you can browse them by clicking the tab along the top labeled “Blog”.  (more…)

Blog, York

Recipes From Betty’s Tea Room, York

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An Afternoon With Betty’s Tea Room

Betty’s Tea Room offers Traditional Afternoon Tea and is famous the world-over. Lovingly refined since it first served it in the 1920s, it’s the afternoon tea that set the standard.

The Shambles York Travel Blogs

During the war …. one of the rooms inside – The Oakroom – became “Betty’s Bar”, a popular haunt among servicemen from nearby air bases.

Some left a permanent reminder of their visit by inscribing their name onto a mirror which still hangs in the basement café!

By the end of the war the mirror featured nearly 600 names. Sadly many of the young men who signed their name never returned from their dangerous missions overseas.

The tea room has tons of delicious pastries and in this article, I highlight 5 of my favorite recipes to make at home.

Here are five recipes from the famous tea room’s pastry chefs that you can try at home! (more…)

Blog, Oxford

Oxford Castle + Museum

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Next in my travel series this week, is the trip I took to the Oxford Castle + Museum last year in July. The last time I was in Oxford was in 2015 when I checked out Christchurch Meadow, University Church, St Michael’s Tower (where the Oxford Martyrs were led to their deaths in 1555-1556), Shakespeare’s favorite pub + Oxford College (with the famous Harry Potter Hall). It really is a stunning British town, only an hour from London by train.

This time around, I went to the Oxford Castle + Prison. I’d heard so much about it but had never been before! Above, original photographs of inmates from 1870! Each picture gives more information about every inmate, as well as why they were arrested and imprisoned. It’s an eerie feeling looking at these pictures – they could be anyone on the streets today! Aside from their clothing, they look remarkably modern and almost familiar. Do you agree? We did a tour and then explored on our own. Here are more photos!  (more…)