My Holiday Keepsakes

…and the ‘Beach Hut’ full of travel treasures!

I regularly bring a reminder of my travels back home, be that an entry ticket to a fantastic experience, a handmade craft or beautiful pebble/shell from a favourite beach. Whatever the item, it’s always a happy reminder of a certain moment or place in time. I often buy items that can be displayed in my home and love the feeling you get..you know the one..when you’re transported straight back in time, with a fond smile spreading across your face! this could happen when you walk into a room and your eye is drawn to one of your fabulous finds, when you pick pick up an item to dust or put on a piece of handcrafted jewellery.

Apart from the reminders of happy holiday moments and travelling tales, I love the individuality that keepsake pieces bring to your home. They add personality on our spaces in a way that some chain store items can’t (that’s not to say they don’t sell lovely things) and there are some beautiful treasures to be found on your travels at home and abroad.

One of my all time favorite keepsakes is this cuddly toy from a visit to Loch Ness about 15 years ago, not long after I’d got married. It still makes me smile and now my Granddaughters love it too!

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As far as interiors go, the ‘Nessies’ live in my Granddaughters room. Throughout the rest of the house you will find homewares from a variety of countries including some favorites shown here from visits to Vietnam: Lacquerware (Vietnam is famed for its lacquerware or ‘son mai’), wooden animal puzzles and a silk lamp; and from Tortola in the Caribbean: a Cat ‘trinket box’ puzzle.

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Some decorative items I bring back are smaller and usually displayed in the ‘Beach Hut’. No, I don’t actually own a beach hut, but there is a special little room in my house which has affectionately been given that moniker. I’ll let you guess which room it is. It’s safe to say it puts a smile on all our visitors faces.

The items on display come from places including Hong Kong, Mexico, Greece, Barbados, Curacao, Grand Turk, St. Kitts, Vietnam, and more…even Northumberland!

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My keepsakes find their way into the garden too.

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Of course, many keepsakes don’t go on display. It’s those little items which hold great memories, like a key card to beautiful hotel room, ticket to an event, a guide book, restaurant business card or a well worn map. Some people love to make a scrap book, for me it’s my ‘holiday box’ which holds a whole host of treasures from which I won’t be parted. I love to rummage through this box from time to time in a way that you used to look through holiday photographs, you know, the printed ones! This particular photo is for presentation purposes only, everything has now been piled..I mean placed…back inside!

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Jewellery is another treasure I often bring back from my travels and I have pieces that I wear often and always with a smile. Most are inexpensive, brighten up my outfits plus jewellery is a perfect way to mark a special occasion on holiday such as a birthday or anniversary. Here are two of my favourites which were bought just because I loved them: Bracelet from the village of Plaka in Crete; Hematite necklace from Samana in the Dominican Republic.

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Sometimes I bring back treasures that I can eat or drink (they never last long enough to be called keepsakes!) such as preserves, good wine from a vineyard or sweet treats such as Greek Baklava and Kataifi. Pictured here are treasures from vineyard visits: the bottle from a delicious wine from Italy and a (full) bottle of Cotto, a grape syrup from Kefalonia .

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I’m also a big fan of all things Disney and have some special keepsakes including these two: A fabulous Cinderella’s Carriage musical snow globe, a wedding present bought at Disney World for my husband Ron and me; and one of our world hopper passes from our visit during Disney World’s 25 year celebrations.

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Other favourites include this handwritten scroll, a gift from an artist during an excursion in Vietnam; a wooden strawberry I bought for Ron on the Caribbean island of Dominica which, when opened had the message I Love You on a sticker in the lid (which has since been lost) and was a bargain at only  $1 USD; a playing card which was used during a magic trick I helped with in Spain.

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I’ve so many fabulous finds that are special to me and evoke memories of romance, fun, excitement, fear (tower of terror anyone!!), fabulous sights, smell, taste and more.

I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing in some of my memories and I know you’ll have lots of your own. I love your comments so it’d be great to hear about some of your favorite holiday keepsakes.

Thanks for reading and bye for now. June xx

 

Hong Kong Junie’s Asian Adventure (Part 1)

Yes, that’s me!! To some members of my family I am known as Hong Kong Junie (usually shortened to Hong Kong), not because of my love of the place but ever since I decided to enthral my niece and nephew with my martial arts moves a la Hong Kong Phooey, the cartoon crime fighter…you know the one…

…Hong Kong Phooey, number one super guy (well ‘gal in my case). Hong Kong Phooey, quicker than the human eye…

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Anyhow, enough of that and on with my adventure, where I finally got to visit…yes you’ve guessed it…Hong Kong!

Each year we usually have a holiday in early December so we can be back for the pre Christmas festivities including, of course, the annual Pantomime with the Grandkids…I Love it!…Oh yes I do! oh come on! surely I’m not the only adult who shouts ‘Hiya Hinny’ to panto Dame Rita louder than all the kids at the Theatre Royal, am I? ha ha!

This year we booked a cruise and stay holiday. This was 2 nights pre cruise in Hong Kong; 10 nights on the Azamara Quest taking in the delights of Vietnam followed by a 2 night post cruise stay in Singapore, packaged up by http://www.iglucruise.co.uk.

Usually our December holidays see us having to fly from Manchester or Heathrow to reach exciting destinations promising sunshine at this time of year. Not this time though, as you can fly to Hong Kong from Newcastle via Dubai with Emirates. This was the first time we’d flown with Emirates and it definitely won’t be the last.

It’s fair to say it’s probably one of the best flights we’ve ever taken, for comfort, food, service and entertainment. The aeroplane itself was brand new, having only flown 40 hours up to that point as the pilot proudly announced. Now, I don’t know about you, but the Hubby and I could not decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing??!!!…we didn’t mull over it for too long however, as the fantastic in flight entertainment system soon had us racking up loads of entertainment for the first part of our journey to Dubai 7hrs 05mins (how fantastic to be able to create your own playlists from tonnes of music and save films to watch at your convenience) however, it soon dawned on me that I’d got a bit carried away and had probably saved enough stuff to listen to/watch whist flying around the world TWICE!!

So, two flights later and we landed in Hong Kong and following a short journey arrived at the Harbour Grande Kowloon.

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And as it was near Christmas the hotel was decorated beautifully to my delight!

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We arrived a bit journey weary in the dark of early evening. Wanting to maximise our sightseeing time, we left the cases in the room and headed to concierge to ask the best way to get to Victoria Peak, a recommended viewing point to see Victoria Harbour by day or night. Not having the energy to either walk/taxi/take shuttle bus to the ferry terminal then take a short trip across the harbour, followed by a bus ride and then funicular up to the peak, we opted for a return taxi from the hotel which was surprising reasonable. Five minutes later we were on our way to Victoria Peak, with the colourful sights of Hong Kong from the taxi window keeping my sleepy eyes firmly open.

Wow! I’m so glad we took that recommendation. The views are fantastic and there are plenty of great vantage points. There is no admission fee to this area however, there are viewing platforms that you can pay to use above the restaurant and shopping complex. Personally, we didn’t feel the need.

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To round off our first night we ate in a small pub/café not far from the hotel, the name of which escapes me. Simply furnished, with a limited menu, great spot on the waters edge and just a handful of locals, chilled music and the sound of the water lapping beside our table, it was just what two weary travellers needed.

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It’s fair to say that if you’re only visiting Hong Kong for a day or two on a pre cruise stay, Kowloon is an ideal base as there’s lots to see in a condensed area and all easily reached by foot (as we did) or bus/taxi. So for the next day and a half we managed to take in a lot of the popular sights and these included:

Temple Street Night market; Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market; The Jade Market; ChungKing Mansions.

All of these places are worth a visit but it’s fair to say they are very busy with so much to take in, so it’s best to go along with the flow and enjoy the experience, which is probably why I didn’t get a single photograph! Be prepared to indulge all your senses in these colourful local markets.

From the hotel there was a pleasant walk along the Hung Hom Promenade to the popular Tsim Sha Tsui area.

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There’s plenty of interest along the way including the Hong Kong Museum of Art where people (including Ron) were enjoying a rest on the grass ‘Day Beds’ and the Hong Kong Cultural Centre where we were lucky enough to see Graduation celebrations taking place.

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We visited Harbour City – the largest and most diverse shopping mall in Hong Kong. We loved this mall even though we weren’t shopping. The atmosphere was welcoming and unhurried, not like the dodgem’s we have in some of our shopping centres and it was so clean…my goodness, I couldn’t see a speck on the glazed white floor and couldn’t imagine the need for the 5 second rule here! It’s worth a walk around just to admire the beautiful shop window displays. Yes, this place feels really special, even entering the mall was a ‘red carpet’ experience.

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We enjoyed a stroll through Kowloon Gardens, a lovely park in the middle of the high rises which included the ‘Avenue of Comic Stars’ featuring a variety of statues of local comic characters.

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You can take the girl out of Sunderland….

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A great recommendation by our driver from the airport was the Whampoa Gourmet Place, offering an array of dining choices including Little Tea Wood, the place we tried. I had the most delicious fruit tea ever, and was so taken by the candle warmed Tea Pot and stand that I’m still trying to source one!

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A popular attraction is ‘The Symphony of Lights’ extravaganza. As the name suggests, it’s a light and sound show accompanied by narrative telling Hong Kong’s history and culture. This is a free show offered by the city and takes place every night. It lasts about 15 minutes and features around 40 buildings displaying lights and beams in time to the music and can be seen from numerous points around the harbour. One of the best being from a Cruise Ship, but more of that in Part 2.

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As a lover of all things Christmas, I was blown away by some of the extravagant decorations both inside and outside the buildings and hotels…here’s a couple of my favourites:

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Well, that’s the end of Part 1 of the adventure, I hope you enjoyed it and will join me for part 2 where we sail off to Vietnam. I’ll leave you for now with one last photo taken from the roof top pool area of our hotel overlooking Victoria Harbour…what a place to spend your last morning.

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Ron enjoying a swim with a view in the roof top glass walled Infinity Pool at our hotel        The Harbour Grand Kowloon

 

Bye for now. June xx

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Labels: june, traveljems, blog, travel, Hong Kong, Asia, Cruise, holiday, emirates