UK Lifestyle Blog 2018-12-03T02:41:24+00:00
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How to Prepare for a Home Remodel

Remodelling a home can be an exciting prospect for homeowners who want to bolster the value of their home or are searching for ways to improve the quality of the place they live in. These projects can provide your home with a wide range of benefits if the projects are done properly. While the actual work that goes into the renovation is the most important element of the project, there are a number of other things that you can do before the work gets started that will increase the chances of the project being a successful one.

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Create a Realistic Budget

The first step towards any successful remodelling project is to create a budget for the project. This budget can be large or small depending on what you can realistically spend on it. If you don’t create a strict budget that takes all of the costs into account, it’s likely that you will be surprised by the final cost, which can be problematic if you find that you’re unable to afford it.

Once you’ve determined what type of renovation you want to pursue, you’ll have a better idea of how to craft a proper budget. If the renovation is proving to be a major one, it’s possible that you could obtain a line of credit that draws from your home equity. This type of loan uses the equity within your property as collateral.

The most important costs of any home improvement project include the costs of hiring contractors and the costs of the materials that need to be used during the renovation. Once you’ve calculated these costs and have determined how much you’re willing to spend, you should have a good idea of whether or not the project will fit into your budget.

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When hiring a contractor, make sure that they provide you with a free quote before the project begins. A quote is an estimate of what you should expect to pay for the project at hand. Although these quotes are only estimates of the final project costs, they are usually never too far off from the final costs.

When you’re creating a budget, it’s essential that you put aside some money for any hidden costs. With large remodelling projects, there may be some additional expenses that only display themselves midway through the project. Set aside 10 percent extra of the total that you expect to pay for the renovation.

If the estimate that you’re provided with is slightly over your preferred budget, there are ways for you to cut costs. For one, you should tackle some of the smaller projects yourself to keep costs down, which can include everything from removing the tile in your kitchen to pulling up old carpet. If you want to save money, consider hiring contractors in the fall or winter seasons. Contractors are at their busiest throughout the spring and summer seasons.

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Identify the Scope of the Project

The only way for your project to be completed on schedule is if you have identified the scope of the renovation. If you’re hazy on what the scope should be once work has begun, you’ll likely find yourself making numerous change orders to the original contract, which can cause the project to spiral out of control in terms of both time and money. A contractor needs to know the size of the project beforehand so that they can bring along the proper equipment.

Conduct Extensive Research 

The biggest factor in what a remodelling project will cost is what types of materials will be chosen for the project. There are a variety of different materials that can be selected for nearly every type of remodel, which can scale to your budget.

If you’re remodelling the countertops in your kitchen or bathroom, the more luxurious and pricey choices available to you include granite and marble, both of which offer a stylish appearance to countertops. However, a material like engineered quartz is much more affordable while also being aesthetically appealing.

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When you’re looking at flooring materials, the most inexpensive options are typically those of laminate and tile. Carpet can vary substantially in cost and quality. The most expensive flooring materials include hardwood and engineered hardwood. If you’re finding that the costs associated with the materials you’ve selected have put you over budget, consider replacing an expensive material with a more affordable one.

Interview Prospective Contractors

No matter how well you budget and plan for your next home improvement project, the project won’t be a successful one unless you hire the right contractors for the job. There are dozens if not hundreds of local contractors for you to consider, which is why interviewing prospective contractors is so important.

Make sure that you speak with the project manager before signing a contract to ascertain whether or not they understand your vision. When interviewing prospective contractors for the job, you’ll want to obtain references from them as well as information about their licensing.

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Follow up on the references you receive to determine if past customers are satisfied. Before interviewing contractors, look up online reviews on Google and the Better Business Bureau to get a good idea of their reputation. During this process, it’s possible that you will be provided with a surprisingly low cost estimate for the project.

While low prices are likely enticing, companies that provide low-ball estimates are typically not legitimate. It’s better to pay more for a reputable company that will do the job effectively and correctly.

Consider Other Options

Whether you’re planning your budget or speaking with contractors, you should never be hesitant to consider other options. If the scope for your project is higher than your budget, there are always going to be ways to scale down the project without sacrificing quality.

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According to www.housetipster.com, if you’re having difficulties with any aspect of the project, the contractors you interview will likely be able to provide you with some tips that could bring down your costs.

Consider the return of investment for the project. If you plan on making a remodelling project of around £50,000 for a home that’s only valued at £125,000, you’ll likely be putting too much money into the house, which you may not be able to recover if you sell the home in the future.

Talk to Family Members and Consider Leaving Home

If you have young children who will be surprised by how disrupting a remodelling project can be, speak with them beforehand to make sure that they understand the benefits that come with making those changes. You could also consider leaving home while the remodelling project is occurring.

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If the project is a small one that will only take a couple of days to complete, you may be able to stay in your home without issue. If the remodels are going to take a few weeks, consider planning a vacation around the project so that you can enjoy yourself while the work is being completed.

Prepare Your Home for Remodelling

There are several things you should do in your home before the start of the project. Move any artwork, electronics, or photos to more secure areas where they won’t become dusty or get broken. You should also cover any large furniture items with plastic or similar coverings to keep dirt and dust particles away. Smaller items of high monetary value should be placed in a safety deposit box. These items include jewellery and cash.

By following these suggestions your remodelling project should be stress-free and you should end up with wonderful results. It’s hard to predict any type of issues that may occur along the away however, these tips will decrease the chances of you having to deal with any problems during the remodelling process.

November 25, 2018|Home Decor|

The Ultra-Modern Approach To Improving House Value

There are a lot of different ways to take on the task of improving the value of a property. Whether you’re simply making it more desirable or increasing the amount of money the place is worth, this sort of work is always worth it when you’re selling a home.

Nowadays, you have more options than ever before when it comes to this area, but some are newer than others. To help you out, this post will be exploring some of the newest of them all, giving you an insight into the world of ultra-modern renovations, along with providing you with the knowledge you need to get started on this approach.

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Electric Car Charging

When I bought my new-build house and found it had connectivity to charge an electric car on the driveway, I thought it was a little overkill, who has an electric car!? Far forward a couple of years, and it’s not that crazy, and I’ve actually been looking at one myself. While they still aren’t as commonplace as they should be, electric cars have quickly started to become more prevalent in cities around the world.

When you have a vehicle like this, though, dealing with slow chargers which plug into your wall sockets isn’t exactly ideal, and it can take more than a night to charge it up to full using a system like this. To combat this issue, there are loads of companies out there which offer machines which can pump out a lot more power than a weedier option. You will need an engineer to come and fit it for you, but this will be worth it if you live somewhere with a lot of vehicles like this, as it will make the house a lot more desirable.

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Home Automation

Home automation has been around for a very long time, with early products on DOS operating systems using power-line technology to send signals around your home to control lights and other small jobs. Nowadays, one of the most notable areas for this sort of technology is entertainment, with companies like Kino AV doing loads of work in this field. Music and video can follow you around your home, moving from room to room with you. You can use your phone as a remote control with a lot of modern TVs as standard, but this gets even better once a proper home automation system is thrown into the mix, giving you access to tools which could have come out of a sci-fi novel.

Of course, though, home automation goes much further than simply controlling the music and movies you want to consume. Along with this, to give you the chance to make your home as secure as possible, this field extends into automatic CCTV, smart locks, and a lot of other tools which are designed to keep your home on lock down. It doesn’t stop here, either. Along with security, home automation can make life a lot more convenient, with lighting, blinds, and even artwork being changed at the press of a button. This is an excellent way to make your home stand out from the crowd.

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Infrastructure

As time goes on, fast internet speeds are becoming an increasingly important resource. You can pay for all of the speed you want when it comes to a product like this, though, only to have your home bottleneck the network before you are able to access it. A modern internet connection requires modern hardware, and being able to get the fastest speeds requires more than just cables. Along with this, a dedicated switch is a good idea, as this can give you the power to route cables and power wifi throughout the building.

While this won’t matter to some people, it will be a very big selling point for others, making it well worth looking at it as an option for your place. We’ve struggled with internet speeds where we live, and everybody in our neighbourhood feels the same. We’ve got a Facebook group and a recently had a meeting with an MP, trust me, people care. Especially with an increasing amount of people running businesses from their home.

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Environmental Efforts

Environmental awareness is becoming an increasingly important thing for people all over the world. With resources dwindling, and popular media pushing for change in the way that resources are taken and used, it’s easy to see why people want to keep their home as green as possible.

There are loads of ways to achieve a goal like this. Solar panels, greenhouses, and water collection drums are all excellent ways to create a sustainable home, increasing the value of your property, while also making it a hit amongst those who want to do their part. Of course, though, you have to work hard to make sure that you’re choosing options which will actually work.

With all of this in mind, you should be feeling ready to start working towards the home of the future. When you’re selling a property, it’s worth putting time into making it as valuable as possible. This is a chance to make a profit, and far too few people take this opportunity seriously, simply letting it go to waste.

November 19, 2018|Home Decor|

Making Your Bedroom Feel Cosier for the Colder Months

In the winter, sneaking up to bed a bit early to snuggle under the covers or read that book you have had for ages feels wonderful. There is something special about having a nice cosy bedroom. It is like having your own little retreat. A space you feel warm and comfortable in. If you have not had time to update your bedroom for the winter months, just read on. As you will see it is not hard to do, you can easily do it over a weekend.

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Sort out your floors

If your flooring has seen better days, you could simply put down some rugs to cover the worst issues and make it look cosier. Or, you could bite the bullet and buy some new flooring.

Laying a new laminate floor in an average sized bedroom does not take long. Provided you are organised and get all of your tools out the night before you can easily do it over the course of a long morning. If you are going to do be using cordless power tools, remember to charge them the night before.

Giving the walls a fresh new look the easy way

Usually, there is no need to completely redecorate. Simply swapping your artwork for something that has a cosier and warmer vibe could be all that is necessary.

If you decide that your wall décor does need updating, consider taking the easy approach. You could perhaps just paint or wallpaper one wall, which is much faster than doing them all. Using stencils or wall stickers is also a quick and easy way to give your bedroom a startling new look.

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Update your bedding

A bedroom always looks nicer if you have crisp new bedding to use. Adding a throw or eiderdown adds a touch of luxury as well as making the room feel cosier. Plus, of course, on colder nights you can always leave it on to keep you warmer.

Add a few extra touches

If you do not already have a chair and footrest set up in your bedroom consider adding one. You will be surprised by how much you will use it. Provided you set it up in the corner it will not take up a lot of space. Yet the room will look a lot nicer and help to create a cosier atmosphere.

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Deal with any draughts

It is also a good idea to check the room for draughts. If you find any just go online to learn how to sort them out. Often, it is as simple as sticking some draught excluding tape along the edges of your door or window frames.

Do it on the cheap

If you are on a tight budget do not worry. You can usually pick up everything you need from your local charity shop. The fact that lots of people update their bedrooms and bedding at this time of the year means that there is usually plenty of choice available. Or, if you are quick you can take advantage of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and grab yourself a bargain.

November 16, 2018|Home Decor|

2 Month European Road-trip in our van (with our dog!): Travel Diary

If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll know that in spring I bought a van with the goal to go traveling around Europe with my fiancée and our pet dog, Alfie. Fast-forward eight months later, and we’ve just arrived back home after an epic 2 month road-trip! It’s been a crazy adventure and there’s so much to write about.

Here’s our trip in a nutshell: 6,150 kilometers, 920,692~ steps between the 2 of us, 9 countries, 15 cities, 10 towns, 24 areas of natural beauty, 17 lakes, 3 summits, over 48,000ft altitude gain (4,265ft of which was a toboggan run!), 19 bucket list items, 2 roadside assistance breakdowns, 1 gas leak that resulted in the van catching fire. Still with me!?

Our route is slightly different to what we planned… the idea was to chase the sunshine, starting in France and working our way through Portugal and Spain. The goal was to end up in Milan, Italy by the end of November because I’m talking at a conference for work. We had some pins on a map of where we wanted to go but not much of a route. We wanted to find places along the way and make it up as we went along because that’s the beauty of having a van.

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Almost immediately after we arrived in France, we decided to dip into Belgium to grab some chocolate waffles next thing we knew, we completely ended up changing our route. We never made it to Spain but instead we toured the Alps, and it was the best decision we could have made. We had a suitcase full of vest tops and shorts, and no hiking gear which was frustrating, but we got by (and I never go anywhere without my Sorel snow boots and Berghaus GORE-TEX® shell anyway, so I was slightly prepared!). It was so fun waking up each day and having no idea where we’d be going next, and just exploring wherever we wanted.

I’m currently in the process of writing posts about the trip but there’s so much to write and never enough hours on the day! Keep an eye out of the upcoming posts though:

  • Must-Have #Vanlife Apps To Download Now 
  • Why We Came Home from Our Roadtrip Early
  • FAQ: Traveling Europe for 2 Months in a Van with a Dog
  • Things Nobody Tells You About #vanlife

This post details the places that we visited during our road-trip and over the coming months I’ll continue to update it and link to new posts about specific areas we went to. I’ve broken it down to particular places on our bucket list (castles, lakes etc) or listed it by town/city if we explored more than just that specific spot. I’m still writing about some of the locations but I’m 50% of the way there!


1. London, England 🇬🇧

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2. Canterbury, england 🇬🇧

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3. Dunkirk, France 🇫🇷

We got the ferry over from Dover to Calais then drove directly to Dunkirk. This trip was the first time I’d driven on the right-hand side of the road, and I knew I was going to have to get used to it soon because we would be covering thousands of miles. We made sure the van adhere to EU regulations (stickers on our headlights, first aid kit at the ready etc), but there wasn’t anything to prepare me for driving on the correct side of the road or going the right way around the roundabout. Surprisingly, we settled into it almost immediately with no major disasters. Once we arrived and parked up, we spent the afternoon strolling up and down Dunkirk beach, reading the info signs about the evacuation of Allied soldiers during World War II, which was really interesting. It’s definitely worth the short drive from the ferry port 👌

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4. ghent, belgium UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

As I mentioned above, almost immediately after we arrived in France we decided to dip into Belgium to grab some chocolate waffles next thing we knew, we completely ended up changing our route. Ghent is a little city in North-west Belgium, famous for medieval architecture such as the 12th-century Gravensteen castle. It’s a popular city that’s been on our bucket list for a while because we’ve heard a lot of good things, and it’s clear to see why! This place is gorgeous, as is the rest of the places we visited in Belgium. My fiancée Sam even said it was perhaps his favourite place on our entire trip, which is quite a statement (the waffles were phenomenal, too!). I would 100% recommend Ghent for a couple of days to soak up the atmosphere in the city centre, enjoy some chocolate and the architecture.

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5. Brussels, Belgium UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

Brussels hasn’t ever really appealed to me, although I was excited to see the Atomium. As soon as we drove into Brussels (we didn’t know about Low Emission Zones at this point…), my perception of Brussels changed – this place is buzzing. There’s something going on in every corner of the city and the architecture will make your jaw drop to the ground. If we do get a LEZ fine for driving through the city, it’ll be worth every penny. Oops!

Some of the highlights from our trip to Brussels:

⭐️ The iconic steel atom sculpture, the Atomium
⭐️ The Grand Place in the market square
⭐️ The Church of Our Lady of Laeken neo-Gothic church.

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6. Brugge*, Belgium UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

We drove straight past Brugge, waving as we went by. The week before we left for our road trip we went on a mini-cruise with my family to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday, and Brugge was one of the stops! Honestly, I’d never thought of coming to Belgium (as I mentioned before about Brussels!) but soon fell in love with the quaint shops, beautiful architecture and tasty chocolate. We ate waffles, rode a canal boat and explored the markets. 100% worth a visit if you’re planning a route similar to this. The funny thing is, if we didn’t go on a cruise with my family just before leaving for our road-trip, we wouldn’t have thought about detouring for some chocolate, which means our route would have been so different 🦋

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7. Diest, Belgium 🇧🇪

If you travel around Europe in a 20 year old van, you’ve got to expect some problems. Next thing we know we’re on the side of the motorway waiting for roadside assistance with no breakdown cover (nobody offers it for a van as old as ours!). We spent 5 days in a Hyundai garage in Belgium whilst they tried to fix it. This gave us plenty of time to explore the area and enjoy the gorgeous parks and lakes nearby. It was a beautiful town to breakdown in… We were told at one point he wouldn’t be back on the road and we’d need to tow him to the UK, then we accidentally set him on fire because of a gas leak. It’s a story for another time, but they found the problem and re-built the engine. Once we cleared the fire extinguisher powder from the van, we were back on the road feeling a little defeated an €2,000 lighter.

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8. Maastricht, Netherlands UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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9. Eltz Castle, Germany UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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10. Eifel National Park 🇩🇪

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11. Nürburgring, Germany UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

Visiting the Nürbergring had always been one of S’s dreams, after years of racing around it on Gran Turismo (a PlayStation game apparently!) So he was really excited that our German detour allowed us to take a look at the beautiful but loud 12 mile long racetrack through the German woodland. As a bit of a speed-freak myself I was secretly excited to see some Porsches and Ferraris flying around the ring! The Nordschleife circuit is so large that we could only sit at a couple of corners and watch the sponsored supercars zoom past us, but it was a moment to remember, and pretty cool considering you can watch for free! We were mildly disappointed we could take Boris around the ring but it was so fun and interesting watching all the different race cars speeding around the track.

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12. Hängeseilbrücke, Germany UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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13. Lingenfeld, Germany UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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14. The Rhine, Germany UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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15. Hohenzollern Castle UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

Perched on the top of a hill, you can see it for miles off as you drive towards it, which was striking – with battlements and towers, this castle looks straight out of a storybook. You might even recognise it from the horror movie A Cure for Wellness (2016). If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a hardworking Wall Street stockbroker who attempts to find refuge in a remote mountain spa but instead gets trapped in something far more sinister. The coolest thing about going to this castle, is we had no idea it was where A Cure for Wellness was filmed, until we passed the draw bridge. From then, we ran around excitingly trying to remember shots from the movie. There’s plenty of explore here, by far one of the most interesting castles we visited on our trip, and mostly likely my favourite out of all of them.

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16. Lichtenstein Castle, Germany UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

Less than an hours drive from Hohenzollern Castle is Lichtenstein Castle. Not to be confused with the tiny European nation of Liechtenstein, Lichtenstein Castle is located in the southwest state of Baden Wurttemberg, in Germany. Might I add, the scenery is absolutely epic, especially when the castle and blooming flowers frame the view overlooking the village of Honau. This castle is completely different to Hohenzollern – it’s far smaller and has a different presence, it’s also built right on the edge of a cliff, which is like something out of a fairytale. There are a few walks in the area that are perfect for exploring and taking the dog for a run. Lichtenstein Castle was probably one of the quietest castles we visited and it didn’t seem overly touristy, just a few magnets here and there, and a small coffee shop nearby.

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17. Hopfen am See, Germany UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

Driving towards the Alps as the sun went down was magical. The sky gradients from pink to purple and the light bounced off the mountains in the distance. We pulled up next to a lake and cozied up for the night. In the morning we popped our backdoor snd was greeted with the best breakfast-view of the trip. We sat in bed with a cuppa tea and swooned over the epic scenery. Once the sun rose, luckily so did the temperature. We decided to hire a paddle boat and explored the lake. The day continued to get hotter, big regret wearing snow boots on this day! Other than going for walks, playing on the lake and enjoying the views, we didn’t do much here. It was nice after a busy and cold week to just enjoy the weather and relax. We stayed for a couple of nights o marvel at the sunsets before moving onto our next stop.

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18. Neuschwanstein, Germany UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

Neuschwanstein Castle is the most visited castles in Germany and one of the most popular tourist destination in Europe. What’s the big deal? Well, this is the real-life palace that Disney based their castle on. We’d dreamed of visiting this castle for ages and it’s always been on our list of places to see. We naively wasn’t prepared for it to be so touristy; signs in Chinese and English, souvenir shops everywhere and €5 bottles of water. We hiked for 40 minutes to the top of a steep hill to be greeted by crowded-scaffold covered castle. The pictures we saw online didn’t even slightly resemble from the hideous building we saw. Needless to say, we quickly left Neuschwanstein Castle after leaving a 1-star review on Google, warning other travellers not to waste their time walking up the hill.

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19. Plansee, Austria UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

I’d never been to Austria, but always swooned over their gorgeous mountains and log cabins on Instagram. Over and over again, I’d see Plansee come up on my feed. When I discovered our route was taking us near Austria I was so excited. The lake was so relaxing, and it remains one of my favourite spots on the trip. I’ve never seen water as clear as the lakes in the Alps. The water quality of Level I, which apparently means you can see 15 metres ahead of you, enabling divers to perfectly explore the world under the water surface. We actually came back here 2 days in a row because we enjoyed it so much, and we wanted to see the lake at different times on day. In the day, it’s beautiful and turquoise, but at night there’s a moody atmosphere which is magical. You can camp overnight at Plansee, but you can pull up and have dinner like we did, with a beautiful view!

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20. Biberwier, Austria UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

Located between the Fernpass mountain pass, connecting Austria and Germany, and the Zugpsitze, Germany’s highest mountain, the small village of Biberwier lies on a steep mountain slope near the Wetterstein Mountains. In the morning we caught a cable car to middle station Marienbergbahn to do Tyrol’s longest summer toboggan run. The track is 1,300 metres long, has an altitude difference of 2,300 ft (700 m) from the top to the bottom, with 40 curves and 1 tunnel passage. It was so much fun, we wanted to do it over and over again, and it only cost €7,80!! 100% recommend coming here and doing the toboggan run, alternatively, you can hire mountain bikes and scooters to come down the mountain on. It’s was so quiet, we only saw a couple of other people, which is good considering I screamed all the way.

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21. Blindsee Lake, Austria UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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22. Innsbruck, Austria UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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23. Pettnau, Austria UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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24. Maria am See, Austria UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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25. Pragser Wildsee, Italy 🇮🇹

The Pragser Wildsee, or Lake Prags, Lake Braies is a lake in the Prags Dolomites in South Tyrol, Italy. This was right at the top of places I wanted to go, so I was so happy when I found out our route passed here. Before we arrived I was aware that I was hyping up this lake more than I should, and I’d probably be let down by having high expectations. I wasn’t disappointed though, instead I was left picking my jaw up from the ground with every step we took. Never in my life have I seen water as blue as the lake at Pragser Wildsee. Everything about this place is beautiful, from the towering trees to the floating pontoons, I could spend all day here. The only downside is the fact it was slightly touristy but the views made up for it. This was undoubtably the best lake, and one of my favourite stops on the entire trip.

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26. Brunico, Italy UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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27. Vahrn, Italy UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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28. Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy 🇮🇹

Cortina d’Ampezzo is a ski resort in northern Italy surrounded by the Dolomites in the southern part of the Alps. Driving into this town we got our first glimpse of the famous peaks, which was so exciting. If you’re not familiar with the area, the Dolomites are widely regarded as being among the most attractive mountain landscapes in the world (… and it’s easy to see why!). It’s a clean town with lots of boutiques and coffee shops, just like your usual ski resort town.  Even during low-season there was still a buzz with plenty of shops and restaurants were still open, making it the perfect base for our week in the Dolomites. It’s slightly expensive, we paid €25~ for 2 hot drinks and 2 pastries but that’s pretty normal in a ski town, and you can’t argue when you’ve got the amazing mountains views all around you.

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29. Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Italy UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

No trip to the Dolomites would be complete without completing the 6 miles long and mostly flat loop circumnavigating the three colossal pinnacles. The Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike is 10.3km, has about 400m of ascent and descent, and is easy. The paths are well signposted and clearly shown on Google Maps. The hike begins nearby a car park (€25 fee for a minimum of 24 hours to be paid at the bottom of the road before heading up) at Rifugio Auronzo 7,677ft above the sea level. The drive is about a 40 minutes from Cortina d’Ampezzo and it’s the highest we ever took our van! He’s old, so he did struggle with the hairpin turns and the steep ascent but we made it up there mostly in 1st and 2nd gear. Coming back down we had to break with our engine and pull over so our brakes wouldn’t burnout!

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30. Zwölferkopf, Austria UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

During our trip we’d planned lots of hikes and typically spent at least 12 hours a day walking, so when we found opportunities to cheat and get cable cars, we did. We caught the Karwendel Bergbahn cable car that takes you from Pertisau to the small Zwölferkopf skiing area high above Lake Achensee. We visited in the summer, so of course, there was no snow here. We ate the best turkey burgers 5,394 feet above sea level, overlooking the incredible views and had a little wander in the area. Considering the views and the quality of the food, it was pretty affordable here, too (surprisingly!). There’s a ton of summer hikes here and you can continue up higher to reach more summits such as or you can just enjoy the views of Lake Achensee from where the cable car takes you, like we did.

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31. Achen Lake, Austria UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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32. Bad Reichenhall UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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33. Berchtesgaden, Germany UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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34. Königssee, Germany UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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35. Hallstatt, Austria UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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36. Lake Bled, Slovenia UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

Lake Bled is Slovenia’s most popular tourist attraction and although it’s getting more and more famous, it’s still relatively unknown comparing to other European landmarks. Lake Bled sits in a picturesque environment, surrounded by mountains and forests. Medieval Bled Castle stands above the lake on the north shore. The area was significantly larger than I imagined it would be with far more going on. It’s a whopping 2,120 m (6,960 ft) long and 1,380 m (4,530 ft) wide, with a maximum depth of 29.5 m (97 ft)! We walked our dog Alfie around the entire lake, watching people stand-up paddle boarding, sunbathing and row boating. There’s a few different areas around the lakes that have diving boards and areas to swim but none were in use when we were here. We got this snap of us all together at the Heart of Bled ❤️👉

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37. Lake Bohinj, Slovenia UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

Lake Bohinj, covering 318 hectares, is the largest permanent lake in Slovenia. It is located within the Bohinj Valley of the Julian Alps, in the northwestern Upper Carniola region, and part of Triglav National Park. This was more exciting to me than visiting the commercial Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj is less crowded, and in my opinion, more beautiful. The entire trip I’d be going on about hiring a row boat, and this was the perfect spot. The lighting was just perfect for the time that we were out on the water. It was one of the most peaceful and awe-inspiring moments of our trip. The pictures on my iPhone which are completely unedited, really don’t do this gorgeous lake justice. If you’re going anywhere in Slovenia, make sure you stop here.

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38. Verona, Italy 🇮🇹

Best known for its Shakespeare associations attracting a multinational gaggle of tourists to its pretty piazzas and knot of lanes. Verona is a bustling centre, its heart dominated by a mammoth, remarkably well-preserved 1st-century amphitheatre, the venue for the city’s annual summer opera festival (which I’m now desperate to attend!). Verona is completely underrated, which I found much more inviting and romantic than Venice.

Highlights of our time in Verona include:

⭐️ Seeing Juliet’s balcony and statue
⭐️ Viewing the city from Piazzale Castel San Pietro
⭐️ Walking around the Arena di Verona.

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39. Venice, Italy 🇮🇹

Highlight of our time in Venice:

⭐️ Exploring the the basilica-dominated square, Piazza San Marco
⭐️ Private gondola tour of the city from the Grande Canal.

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40. Milan*, Italy UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

Milan was always on our road trip itinerary, even before we changed our route. This is because at the end of November I’m delivering a presentation at a digital marketing conference.

We ended up passing Milan earlier than anticipated because of our route change, so we’ve decided to miss this stop as we’re going to fly out a couple weeks after we get back.

If you’re planning a road trip like this, it would be silly not to drop by! We’ve got a couple of things planned when we visit, such as:

⭐️ Get a snap in front of Milan Cathedral
⭐️ Explore Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

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41. Sirmione, Lake Garda, Italy UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

⭐️ Exploring the grounds of the gorgeous Scaligero Castle.

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42. Jamaica Beach, Italy UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

Naturally, living in Cornwall, I’ve become a little bit of a ‘beach snob’. We’re so lucky where we live, we’re surrounded with gorgeous coastline, so a beach has to be pretty outstanding for me to rate it above some of the places we have right on our doorstep at home. Jamaica Beach is nothing like what we have in England though. Of course, this is Lake Garda, it isn’t the ocean crashing onto a beach like you’d expect. Instead, Jamaica Beach is still lake like a sheet of glass across smooth rocks. The vibe at Jamaica Beach is what makes it really special though. Everyone is quiet, it’s not busy, and there’s a sense of calm. Quite a few people were just doing yoga or meditating by the edge of the water, others were taking a dip in the lake. Ridiculously beautiful and a zen vibe, this is my jam.

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43. Varenna, Lake Como, Italy UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

We’ve been spoilt with incredible lake views on this trip but one of the lakes we thought was going to impress us the most, did the very opposite. We arrived at Lake Como after driving from Lake Garda – these two lakes are relatively close to each other. We had a great couple of days in Garda, so we anticipated a different, but equally great time in Como. When we arrived we could barely see the other side of the lake due to thick smog, after a bit of research we learnt this was normal and we would be considered lucky, should the smog lift. The lake was filled with litter, and we learnt that the lake was 68% above the safe limit to bath in the water; very different to the crystal clear water at Garda. Perhaps on a clearer day we could have appreciated this more but we didn’t stick around – I guess we’ll never know.

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44. Laguno, Switzerland 🇨🇭

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45. Swiss mountain pass 🇨🇭

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46. Täsch, Switzerland UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

We spent a couple days parked up in Alphubel camp site in Tasch whilst we explored the car-free mountain town, Zermatt (see below!). The plot is located about a 3 minute walk from Matterhorn Terminal Täsch railway station that takes you directly to Zermatt. The train comes every 12 minutes from 7am until 10pm, so there’s never any hanging around. We could hear the train when we were in our van each time it passed, but we’ve been so tired traveling that as soon as our heads hit the pillow, we were out like a light anyway! The campsite had hot showers, toilets and an area to empty your chemical toilet, as well as top up your water. It was a little pricey at 33CHF pp but given the average price of a hotel in this area, it’s not too bad.

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47. Zermatt, Switzerland UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

Coined one of the most popular ski resorts in the world, Zermatt is a car-free mountain town in Switzerland. The streets are lined with boutique shops, cozy restaurants and luxury hotels. Switzerland generally tends to be quite expensive, but Zermatt is particularly pricey. I did a little bit of shopping in the North Face shop and picked myself up a new duffel bag, but I didn’t dare poke my head into the Rolex or Omega stores. Zermatt was great to explore for the day, and I’d love to come back in the height of ski-season to soak in the atmosphere, but to get the most out of your stay, I’d say you need to head there with a lot of disposable cash to really enjoy it. We paid €7~ for a takeaway coffee in Zermatt, which is significantly more than any other place we bought coffee for in Italy, France, Slovenia, Austria or Germany.

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48. Matterhorn, Switzerland UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

Viewing of the iconic Toblerone peak, Matterhorn, has been at the top of my bucket list for years. I honestly never thought I’d be so lucky to see it in the flesh, and I certainly never expected to get so close. Standing at Riffelsee lake 9,045 feet underneath the world’s most beautiful mountain was one of the most humbling and breathtaking experiences of my life. We couldn’t have been luckier with the weather; there wasn’t a cloud in sight! We woke up at sunrise to ensure we’d get to the viewing point with plenty of time before the sun moved behind the mountain, and our efforts to pull ourselves out of bed when it was 0 degrees were rewarded 100%. We spent 3 – 4 hour at high-elevation and the afternoon views weren’t nearly as impressive as the morning, so I’m really glad we got to see it when we did.

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49. Gornergrat, Switzerland UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

Once we finished swooning over Matterhorn, we continued up to the Gornergrat summit (10,285 feet) to marvel at the Monte Rosa massif. The Gornergrat is a rocky ridge of the Pennine Alps, overlooking the Gorner Glacier south-east of Zermatt in Switzerland. The pictures really don’t do the view justice but I can assure you, it was EPIC! Nothing beats the panoramic you’re rewarded with when you reach high-elevations; it’s no wonder that climbing mountains is addictive. A cool perk about this summit is the 360 AR viewfinders that show you the name of peaks and glaciers wherever you point it – pretty smart. We ate lunch in the sunshine, overlooking the snow capped peaks before making our descent to Zermatt via Riffelsee.

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50. Lac d’Emosson, Switzerland UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

On our way to Chamonix we decided to stop at Lac d’Émosson, a reservoir in the canton of Valais. knowing it was a short-drive from where we were heading, it felt like the perfect detour to break up our drive. Little did we know that the drive to get there would take up to an elevation of 6,332 feet on mountain roads. Our 20 year old van struggled to pull us up the windy roads even more so than when we drove up the Dolomites, but eventually we get there and had our first view (on this trip!) of Mount Blanc. There’s some incredible hikes in the area that lead you to find the 150 million year old dinosaur tracks. We wanted to do this but we arrived later than we anticipated so we didn’t have a chance to squeeze it into our schedule. Something to put on the list for our next trip to the Alps!

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51. Chamonix, France UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

We first visited Chamonix two years ago when for my birthday and I instantly fell in love with the mountain town. From the gorgeous log cabin we were staying in at the foot of Mount Blanc, to the chalet food, the buzzing atmosphere during ski-season, and the magical views. I could be bias though, because the summit of Aiguille du Midi is where S proposed (coincidently, we were here 6 months before our wedding day). We decided to book a luxury hotel room with a king-size bed, bath and balcony with mountain views. Having a bath and sleeping in a proper bed for the first time in 2 months was he BEST. The next day we re-visited our favourite places but sadly the Midi cable car wasn’t running due to maintenance. In the evening we met with one of our friends from Cornwall that now lives in her van in Chamonix.

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52. Annecy, France UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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53. Lyon, France 🇫🇷

⭐️ Exploring Musée Miniature et Cinéma in the city
⭐️ Swooning over plants at Jardin botanique de Lyon

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54. Paris, France UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

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55. Calais, France 🇫🇷

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November 16, 2018|Popular, Van Life|
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**WINNER** Best European Lifestyle Blog 2018 🌺🥥

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Strawberry Squeeze is a UK lifestyle blog written by me, Sam Charles! Ranked as Up and Coming on Bloglovin’, Strawberry Squeeze publishes content from health and beauty to travel and adventure.

I aim to updated the blog at least once a week (usually much more often!) with guides, inspiration and reviews. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook to keep up to date with all my posts 💕

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Strawberry Squeeze is a UK lifestyle blog but what exactly does that mean? Mediakix defines a lifestyle blog as “digital content representation of its author’s everyday life and interests”. This is perfect for fickle little me, that changes what they’re doing every 5 minutes.

Whilst my career, my fiancée and my home is consistent, my hobbies and interest are all over the place. Life is too short and I want to experience EVERYTHING. One weekend I’ll be climbing a mountain, another I’ll be surfing, then the next week I’ll be watching learning how to create macrame wall hangings.

I always wonder how successful I could make the blog if it was in a niche with a focus but alas, it just wouldn’t be me.

Do you run a UK lifestyle or fitness blog, and want to contribute to my Strawberry Squeeze? If so, I want to hear from you!🍓hello@strawberrysqueeze.co.uk

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