Places to visit in Shropshire: Greenfield’s Farm Shop

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I have lived in Shropshire for 15 years and I am sad to say I am only just appreciating it now – from the Ironbridge Gorge to the Victorian town of Shrewsbury, there really is  a lot to appreciate.

So as summer has finally arrived, we decided to grab some goodies for a picnic and what better than organic, cruelty-free food?

I am a foodie and very much a meat eater, but I absolutely do not agree with the cruelty of battery farming that can come with it, so obviously a farm shop is the best place to go, and what a treat!

Behold, Greenfield’s – a tiny piece of heaven for any foodie!

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The fresh fruit is mouth-wateringly colourful…

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They even have freshly baked cakes with locally sourced ingredients.

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There is a deli counter full of meats, cheeses and everything else you could possibly desire…

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And every flavour of jam you could ever dream of!

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We left with freshly made pasties, sandwiches and fruit. Our only problem was to decide where to tucker down with our goodies.

In the end we settled for our own back garden, since we have lived in our new home for nearly two months and never actually spent time in it!

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If you ever find yourself visiting Shropshire, I seriously recommend paying Greenfield’s a visit, they have two shops on Telford, and one is just a 60-second drive from Junction 4 of the M54.

The food is delicious and the staff are so friendly – I’ll be heading back soon for a homemade cheesecake!

– love Carla x

Fiji: Castaway Island (Monuriki)

Another popular excursion available at Matamanoa Island Resort aside from scuba diving is the visit to nearby Castaway Island, known locally as Monuriki Island. Made famous by Tom Hanks, the tiny island didn’t disappoint.

Obviously a lot of post production editing went on in the movie, since the island is set in a group of three or four very close islands, and not quite in the middle of the sea as it was supposed to be. And, for those that are geographically challenged (Keeling), it is nowhere near the Caribbean.

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So we came ashore on the same beach Tom first appeared on in the movie:

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Tom Hanks In 'Cast Away'

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It was beautiful. If we didn’t already feel like we were in paradise, we did now!

Our very kind guide Ben took us on a short tour of the tiny island, and pointed out a few key areas we saw in the movie.

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Then we set off with the free snorkel gear to have another go with the new camera,

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The settings were a tad off to begin with…

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But we chased some fish anyway.

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And this little guy taunted us, and followed us until we snapped his picture.

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We had one more stroll around the island before heading back to the boat.

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Not before finding one very important and crucial guy… WILSON!!

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Apparently when they finished filming, Tom Hanks left the real Wilson tied to a rock. Inevitably it (he?) came free and floated to one of the nearby inhabited islands, where a local boy in the village kept a hold of it!

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Our time in Fiji was amazing, we only had four days but we will definitely be back. Until next time!

– love Carla x

 

Fiji: Diving with Viti Watersports

It may have rained the morning of our first real day in Matamanoa Island Resort, but that doesn’t matter when you’re diving! Now this is my third time ever diving, and I was still a little terrified! I should point out I have an irrational fear of water, I can’t swim, and the only reason I went diving, or have ever been diving, is that I know I would regret it if I didn’t go. Plus, I wanted to see a turtle.

We also took the chance to give the new camera a go underwater, and the results aren’t bad for our first time!

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The dive site we went to was called Edenville, and was more suitable for beginners. I did explain to Trevor, the very nice Londoner who works for Viti Watersports that I was a little scared, but we worked out most of my issues with a try dive in the pool the day before – and it really helped put me at ease. Freaking out when diving isn’t a sensible idea.

I have to say, the more I dive the less fear I feel, and actually it’s a very relaxing experience. And the view ain’t so bad either!

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So we swam, became one with the fish, and I waited patiently for a turtle.

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I also feel I snapped some pretty cool pics, whilst searching for a turtle…

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And then I found him!!

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Check out our Instagram page to see the video of this graceful fella!

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Towards the end of the dive I didn’t think we would see anything cooler, but the reef just kept on going, so we found another starfish to chill with!

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And of course I liked to stay a little closer to the surface… still 10 metres deep though.

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But the reef kept drawing me back in.

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In all we had a 45 minute dive and the time just went so fast. It was incredible and easily my favourite dive. For those who can’t swim don’t worry, you don’t need the ability to swim, diving is all in the legs – use your arms and you risk pulling out someone else’s oxygen! It is something I recommend, even if you only try it once.

For me it definitely helped that we had such a friendly instructor, that alone really did put me at ease, and I will happily recommend them again.

Have you been diving? Any tips for a newbie would be appreciated!

– love Carla x

Fiji: Matamanoa Island Resort, Mamanuca Islands

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I know it’s been a while since I last posted about my amazing trip in Australia (three months have gone so fast), but I have been very busy purchasing my first house (eek)!

So, here it is (finally)…

From Melbourne, myself and the bf were lucky enough to travel to Fiji, or, as I like to refer to it, paradise.

We spent one evening on the mainland of Nadi, before heading out to the wonderful Matamanoa Resort in the Mamanuca Islands.

There are a few options when leaving the mainland to head to one of the smaller islands – the main two being a boat over, or a very cool helicopter. We went for the helicopter as it only took around 15 minutes rather than the boat which takes nearly an hour.

The service was provided by Island Hoppers who were absolutely fantastic. There is a weight restriction, and obviously being in Australia for three weeks we had lots of suitcases, but we minimised the stuff we would need for four days and packed just one bag – the Island Hoppers were kind enough to store our bags for us.

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The ride was comfortable and the view was incredible. The day we flew out it was raining, but don’t be fooled, it was still 30 degrees and my boyfriend still got sunburn!

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When arriving to Matamanoa we were waved in by a member of staff (whose name I wish I could remember) and she was just brilliant, and an absolute credit to the staff there.

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We had drinks in the bar waiting for us, along with a shell necklace. Happily, Matamanoa is an Adults Only resort – the main basis for choosing this place.

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Originally we had booked a Beachfront Bure but on arrival the lovely lady upgraded us to the finest Beachfront Villa!

The Villas are a short walk from the main bar, and since it was raining we were taken to our villa in a golf cart around the edge of the island.

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We swung the door open and were greeted with a stunning villa.

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Complete with beautiful flowers!

bathroomAnd even an outside shower!

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We had our own plunge pool and a view to die for. I only wish the camera hadn’t died after day two, when the sun really came out – we cleverly left the battery charger in the suitcases back on the mainland!

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This little fella came to greet us.

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We even had access to our own private slice of paradise.

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Rain or no rain, the water was amazing!

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So I took a quick dip to test out the new waterproof casing for the camera, and the sun decided to show itself. And I, being the clever cookie I am, decided to just snap some pics, without wiping away the water! Clever me.

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We stayed for four days at Matamanoa Island Resort and I couldn’t recommend it enough! Our stay included a buffet-style breakfast of cereals and pastries which changed a little everyday and was perfectly tasty.

There was a good lunch menu and an even better dinner menu – both of which changed daily. I fully recommend the Caesar salad – it’s made fresh at your table exactly how you like it.

No cash changes hands at all during your stay, they simply charge everything to your room and you pay when you leave by either cash or card.

Together we spent around $3500 Fijian dollars, which is roughly £1,140. I know that sounds a lot for four days, but that is for two of us and included excursions like diving (which cost the most, but still much cheaper than in Australia) a boat trip to Monuriki Island (otherwise known as Castaway Island) and six treatments in the spa (we were in paradise after all and had had a tough three weeks in Oz), as well as three course evening meals and lots of cocktails!

Obviously it’s not a budget holiday, actually everyone else but us were there on honeymoon, and we were easily the youngest there.

All in all, Matamanoa is a beautiful resort, the staff are brilliant – I really do wish I’d have got the name of my friend who works on the reception who greeted us, she had a brilliant sense of humour and like all of the staff, was very friendly and approachable.

I will definitely be back again (when funds allow) so until then, Fiji.

Have you stayed in Matamanoa or anywhere else in Fiji? I’d love to hear from you!

– love Carla x

Hamilton Island, QLD: Cuddling koalas & Whitsunday Apartments

While in Hamilton Island we stayed in the Whitsunday Apartments, and got an upgrade for a reef view – check out the stunning view from our balcony on the eighth floor…
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Not bad, eh? We had four days on the island and made the most of it. Whitehaven Beach was a highlight for me, along with diving the Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures when we went diving, so you’ll have to wait for the Fiji posts to see some diving pics (stay tuned).

We walked along the Marina most days as that’s where all of the restaurants and shops are, and well, you can see why…

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But my absolute favourite part about Hamilton Island? Cuddling Koalas!!!

Yep, you got it. Take a look at this lovely boy, who for a brief moment was in my arms. His name is Wally, and he likes eucalyptus.

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Isn’t he just the loveliest?!

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And he was quite a lump for a baby!

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But he was definitely worth waiting for!

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He had a weird smell, but he didn’t bite me, which I am very grateful for as (now here’s a fun fact) koalas carry Chlamydia! Who knew?!

Have you had chlamydia from a koala bear?

We’d love to hear from you 🙂

– love Carla x

Whitsunday Island, QLD: Whitehaven Beach

Next on our travels we headed to Hamilton Island, and one of the best excursions from there was to head out to Whitehaven Beach.

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The boat journey out was around an hour. We had lunch included (but by lunch they meant melon and muffins) and a few hours on one of the most famous beaches in the world.

The sand was almost pure white and the sea crystal clear along the six kilometre stretch of beach – it was another stunning day in Australia.

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The pure white silica sand means that no matter how hot the day is, the sand never gets hot, so it is perfect to kick off your sandals and sink your tootsies in.

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Unfortunately we were anchored too far away to climb the hill to see the famous inlet, but we did have a few hours to enjoy the peace of the beautiful beach, so we swam, snorkelled and took photos a-plenty!

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If you are one for lounging on a beach this is perfect for you. We had limited time so we couldn’t really explore, but if you are after something more then maybe a full day would suit you better.

Have you been to Whitehaven? I’d love to see some pics!

love Carla x

Phillip Island, VIC: Penguin Parade

One of the main reasons for visiting Melbourne was to go on an excursion out to Phillip Island to see the world’s smallest penguins. Our excursion was booked with AAT Kings and we went for the Express Tour, which gave us a few more hours in Melbourne.

I’ll start by saying our coach driver (whose name has completely escaped me) was brilliant. He was hilarious and talked for most of the way to Phillip Island.

We turned up a little earlier than expected as the traffic was particularly light, so the driver took us around to see some spectacular views of the island, and along the way we met this little fella – a wallaby. I am a bit disappointed I was in Australia for so long and didn’t see a Kangaroo, but this was close enough!

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FUN FACT: Did you know there are more Kangaroos in Australia than there are people?

If you do go to visit the penguins make sure you’re prepared – we went in peak summer and it rained and was rather cold, but the rain stopped just before the penguins emerged from the sea. They sell blankets, ponchos and foamy things to sit on, but you may end up spending a small fortune if you are unprepared (like we were) so do take stuff with you just in case.

No photography is allowed as the flashes can scare the penguins and make them vomit, so it’s nice to just sit and enjoy without the hassle of people trying to get the perfect picture. However you can download the Phillip Island Penguins app and they have images from the night on there for you to download – check out their handiwork:

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Aren’t they just the cutest things you have ever seen?! I definitely recommend going, and once you have watched them waddle their way to their nests you can walk along the boardwalks and see them feed, argue and waddle along with you!

I only wish we had time to go to the Koala Conservation – so that’s on the list for next time!

– love Carla x