THE TRAVEL GUIDE TO MADEIRA


Here's the extent of what I knew about Madeira before receiving an email asking if I'd like to visit...

It has good cake.

No seriously, I'm aware that that's slightly moronic and borderline ridiculous of me but I knew that it was somewhere in the realms of Portugal - an autonomous region of Portugal comprising of 4 islands off of the north west coast of Africa actually (thanks google) - and I knew I'd never been and that was about it. So I said yes to the trip because a cute 4 days with your bestie/boyf/whoever fancies getting on the floor to get the gram for you is never going to be a no is it? And then, we sort've just went a matter of weeks later.

So I thought I'd share with you my findings and my recommendations and overall, why Madeira is a little cutie and somewhere that returned my zen (lol have you ever heard me be such a hippie twat in all my life? probably not).

A big fat huge thank you to Jet 2 holidays for providing the flights and accommodation, it was so amazing to work with you!! 



Where we stayed
SE Boutique Hotel This hotel, genuinely, was one of my favourite ever hotels to stay in. It had the perfect mixture of traditional character whilst being modern and extremely comfortable. For me, the USP and absolute winner is the roof terrace, a stunning area, filled with colour - and loads of flamingo print, sassy little thing - and the most chilled, zen environment. Not to mention it also has the most insane views of Madeira, possible ever. (I mean, ok, yes I'm bias but still). The staff were wonderful, super friendly and helpful, and the food (they have a few restaurants as well as a champagne and lobster bar) is fab! The hotel was such a big part of why our stay was so lovely, so the biggest thank you to all at SE Boutique for being amazing. 
How we got there I need to give a huge shoutout to Jet2.com, and not just because I am working with them, but because the service from start to finish really was incredible. The staff were fantastic and the flight itself was super comfortable. My 6"4 boyf mentioned how comfortable and roomy the seats were so I think that says a lot. Plus I sat next to a little old lady who said she only flies Jet 2 now so there we are, pleasing all sorts of crowds ;)

I've linked up where else Jet 2 fly to from Stansted here too so you can check them out.

The Cable car - By far, one of my favourite things to do in Madeira. The Cable Car takes you from, erm... somewhere in Funchal up to the top of somewhere else in Funchal. In short, it gives you incredible views of the surrounding towns and the ocean, and, well it's just really bloody cool. It also takes you up to where the beautiful Japanese gardens are which we sadly didn't get a chance to visit, but I've stalked enough on insta to know they're stunning!

Blandy's Wine tour - Not just an amazing excuse to get totally pissed slightly tipsy, the Blandy's wine tour was the absolute perfect way to start the day (yes I drank Madeira wine at 10:30am and I'm totally OK with it). It was super interesting wandering around the grounds of Blandy's and hearing all about it's history and how the wine is made. And then came the good part because then we got to taste it.

And I don't remember anything after that...

Just kidding ;)

Sunset cocktails on the SE Boutique rooftop I know I've briefly mentioned this above but honestly, if you're in Funchal in Madeira, get yourself to the roof terrace of this hotel, order yourself a cocktail (boyf LOVED the New York Sower (actually spelt like that before anyone thinks I'm a dumbass), I preferred the mojitos. But both were divine, as was every evening we spent drinking cocktails there!
The Old town - Now, look. I'm going to be honest with you. One thing I wasn't quite aware of was the average age/demographic of people that visit Madeira. I could sit here and lie to you and say it's the perfect place to go raving it up, but it isn't. It is quite slow paced and it is definitely an "older" destination (right now, anyway) but there is so much charm and beauty to it. And one of my favourite areas was the old town at night on a weekend. It was the first time I'd really seen the island come to life and it was so much fun sitting and eating dinner with some drinks, listening to the local musicians go to town. Literally.

The Lidos - Finally, the last place I'd 100% recommend from our trip was a visit to the Lidos. Not only is the area breathtakingly beautiful but if it's warm enough and the sea is calm, taking a dip would be divine!!

I'd love to know if you've ever been to Madeira before? Do you have any more recommendations? I'm all ears :)

xx


Thank you SO much to Jet2Holidays for organising our complimentary press trip. We had the best time and can't wait to return!

THE PERFECT GETAWAY TO CORNWALL


Many moons ago when the weather wasn't so cold that it felt like your fingertips could fall off 10 seconds after walking outside (I started writing this a few months ago in the depths of winter FYI), I went down to Cornwall for one of the most chilled trips of 2018. I was invited by a beautiful hotel, and to be totally honest... as lovely as it looked and "nice" as the google images looked, it just wasn't a trip that was at the top of my list. I wasn't, how can I say this....

Buzzing my t*ts off?

Apparently that's what the cool kids say so we'll go with that.

I was happy to be exploring Cornwall but I wasn't racing around with joy and excitement.

That was until I arrived in Cornwall and immediately realised that google images does a horrific job of selling's Cornwall incredible beauty, and nobody quite tells you how magical this place is.

So we arrived at the Fistral Beach hotel which has the most perfect views known to man. Our pretty gigantic room - with insane balcony - was complete with personalised robes (anyone else a total sucker for personalisation?) and amazing service from the staff. The thing about Fistral beach is, it's sort of luxurious but friendly. It's not like one of those pretentious places that makes you feel as common as the Artful Dodger, it's relaxing and peaceful and a total little haven in Newquay.

Now, talking of relaxation... I managed to hustle (/I was kindly offered but hustle sounds more gritty) a massage for myself and boyf and jesus f**king christ, it was easily up there in my top 3 ever massages.

And yes I win first prize for such a pretentious leaderboard but girl likes a massage. I was so relaxed at Fistral beach that I did the super cute thing of falling asleep and dribbling whilst catching flies... no you're sexy!
After the massage of dreams - it got a thumbs up by Dan FYI who said, quote "she put all these nice smells under my nose and I got to choose. There was at least 5. Amazing" - we got ready for dinner, otherwise known as a feast.

I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the incredible manager who looked after us at dinner - and breakfast the next day - but he was possibly the most wonderful manager/waiter/sommelier (I know, fancy)/human being ever and made us feel totally at home.

Ya know, if my home was a 5* hotel and I got a 3 course meal delivered to me with wine to pair.

 The food was stunning, as was the breakfast buffet the next day (which was well needed because I tried port for the first time and reaaallllyyy) liked it. Lol.
The only downer of the trip was slight work hiccups - polite way of saying we were both dealing with bellends unhelpful clients so sadly had to cancel our surfing lessons with the Fistral beach surf school which, I was gutted about.... until I dipped my toe in the sea and I still don't think the feeling has returned to it.

So, instead, a few hours later I borrowed a surfboard for some pictures and became the epitome of "all the gear and no idea".

Overall, it was 3 days of total peace and serenity and bloody incredible food and that is something I am 100% up for any time.

Thank you so much to the Fistral Beach hotel for having us, we will definitely be back! Just maybe when the sea is warmer than Voldermort's heart ;)

xx

Complimentary stay from Fistral beach hotel.

HERE'S WHAT TO EXPECT FROM ME IN 2019


Do you remember back in the day when I just used to sit down and write and not even think about what I was typing and it would feel like we were all just having a bit of a chat?

No? Me neither. Well, I do but they were so long ago now that it feels like a different lifetime. But f**k me I miss those days.

I miss the days where I'd buy a new jumper and suddenly a whole blog would appear purely about this jumper. Or nail varnish. Or nail varnish remover (... yes I did a whole post about the bourjois pot that you dunk your fingers into and LOL it was shockingly shit). But the thing is, times change, trends change and standards change.

2017 was the year that blogs turned glossy and editorial and basically like an online vogue.

2018 was a bit like the year that blogs died were abandoned, but for me, 2019 is the year I get right back into it. (I know I've said this before but this time I wholeheartedly believe it and I think that sort've means I'm halfway there?). But yeah, this is the year that I take my camera everywhere and snap a extra few pics that I can turn into a blog post and then just ramble for half an hour about my week/day/life/shiny new jumper and we can all have a chat like the old days. That sound fun?

*silence*

Well I think it does anyway. So yeah, I went to Disney and jesus christ is there a better place to start off your year, no Susan, I don't think there is either.

So here's some snaps from Disney.

So yeah, Disney was great. It was also incredibly busy and incredibly cold and in two days we had 45mins free time and went on 2 rides. I'm absolutely not complaining, I feel so grateful to go on these amazing trips, but I do think it's important to show that life really isn't perfect skies and milkshakes yano?

Disney, overall, was wonderful and a bloody magical start to what is shaping up to be what is looking like a really exciting year *insert anxious emoji here because we all know life has a way of being like LOL no, things have been going too well, here's some shit to deal with*.

So apart from things which I can't really mention yet, here's some things that you can expect from me this year.

  • More chatty blog posts. These are always my favourite to read and always my favourite to write so expect a lot more of these kinda posts where you get to the end and think... what have I gained from this? Absolutely sod all. But I did I feel like I was chatting to a mate? Yeah sort've.
  • More Vlogs on Youtube. Youtube has always been a tricky platform for me. I love chatting, I love being creative, but it's always felt like a lot of effort for not a lot of return. Please don't get me wrong, every single one comment means the absolute world. But I guess you're open to so much more criticism over there that it kinda balances out to a bit of a bleugh platform. This year I want to do more chatty, everyday mundane vlogs as again, they are always my fave to watch so hopefully you like them too.
(and if you don't, my Mum will watch on repeat #That'sAtLeast10ViewsThere)
  • More fun snaps on insta. I've been experimenting over the last 6months or so with more fun poses, rogue captions and basically trying to do anything which feels remotely unique. To be completely honest, and I'm so aware this is going to make me sound like a stuck up, self righteous tit... but I am so bored of seeing carbon copies of my feed everywhere, even to the point of copying my captions. It really is a never ending first world problem battle to consistently try to mix it up. So yeah, expect more fun stuff.
  • Actually living my best life. I used to say I was doing that all the time but realistically, I wasn't. I was still stressing about Instagram and content and chasing invoices etc. This year (and for the past year actually) I've put my actual life, and not my online life, first. And I really have been living my best life since.
I realise that what was meant to be a tiny list of things to expect in case I go awol again and don't post for 3422974247 months again has actually turned into a full on resolutions post but, you know, I guess this is all part of sitting and typing and enjoying the process and not getting wrapped up in this social media world.

From now, I've decided to make content for me. Not for certain brands and not for what is considered popular and most definitely not for likes. 2019 is the year of not giving a flying f**k.

It's also the year of working incredibly hard and making a lot of big dreams come true. And it's also a year of having the most fun.

Wow, you got a lot to live up to 2019!

xx


TWENTY SIX


Twenty fucking six.

When, what, how, help, please, thank you, thank u next.


Now look, I know it's not old for anyone currently plotting to murder me/who's just bought a tanned, blonde doll from Amazon ready to turn into a voodoo. I know it isn't. But I just can't help but feel like, wasn't it only yesterday that I'd just turned 19, had fresh skin, zero eye bags, not a scrap of cellulite in sight, a shit load of energy and a nickname of baby Elle because I was SO BLOODY YOUNG.

Anyway, I'm closer to 30 than I am to 20 now - here is the part where I insert a laughing emoji because I am laughing through the pain/attempting to laugh rather than cry but mostly just achieving psycho grin - so yeah, I feel a bit more like an adult now, or more like I should feel more like an adult now and this year, afterall, has been a bit of a bloody big one so I thought I'd list a few things I've learnt in the 9538 days that I've graced the earth with my presence.

~

1. The older you get, the more comfortable you get in your skin until you reach around 50 and start getting all saggy and wrinkly lol jk. But there is absolutely no doubt that my self confidence has progressively increased as the years go by. I'm not sure whether it's more that the older you get, the less shits you give, or whether it's that you finally give up and realise that this is just your face and there's nothing you can do it about it... but either way, it's really bloody nice.

2. Friends come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. This was the year that I finally let go of negative people in my life that literally brought 80%+ neggy, bad vibes. The thing is, these people generally aren't bad people, but some just take a lot longer than others to gain perspective in life and some never gain it at all and I kinda just feel like, life is difficult enough as it is, erase the negativity and make your life easier. As soon as I did I honestly felt like a thousand weights had been lifted off my shoulders and it's a big reason why this has been my happiest year yet.

3. Life is really fucking short. I know I'm not telling you anything you don't know here but I've experienced a lot of death in the last 12 months - one of which was a school friend who was 26 years old, studying law and had her whole life ahead of her - and it finally gave me the kick up the arse to enjoy every minute of life.

4. Working less doesn't necessarily mean working less hard. This year was pretty big for me career wise because not only did I decide to cut down significantly on content - quality over quantity and also how on earth did I ever post 2 instagram pictures a day - which meant I could focus on other non social media related work and you know, that thing called time off (nope, hadn't heard of it until recently either) but I also signed to Margravine Management. A huge step for me because basically I'm a massive control freak and find it terrifying handing over a little part of my little baby (blog not actual real human) to someone else, but it's been one of the best decisions I've made. I finally feel like I have a little team and I finally feel like the dreams that I had that were too big are maybe not too big after all.

5. I will always love NYC and I will never ever not feel like I belong there.

6. Once you start taking a step back from social media you really do see the world through your actual eyeballs as opposed to a camera lens and it really is incredible. Yeah, it's nice getting the perfect instagram pic but do you know what's nicer? Making memories with the people you love or even just for yourself. Never get too wrapped up in your online life that you stop appreciating your actual life.

7. The other day I thought to myself, are these trainers - you know the ugly cool ones? - a little bit too young for me.?And mostly it just got me thinking, fuck.. what do I wear when I'm in my thirties and my entire wardrobe is full of tiny skirts and over the knee boots. 

Lol.

8. I realised what I'm actually getting a bit too old for is travelling for over 50% of my life. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore travel and love nothing more than visiting a new place or an old favourite and exploring every corner living my absolute best life.... but I also really enjoy coming home and readjusting to life. So yeah, maybe I've got one or two more years left of living out of a suitcase and never knowing what time zone I'm in.

Or maybe I'll just retire now and buy 10 cats and never leave my house again.

9. I'm actually getting less patient as I get older. For example, I just realised this was only point 9 and thought, jesus christ I'm not even sure I've got time/cba to get to the end *insert cry laughter/"I'm having a quarter life crisis emoji here*

10. I still love Take that. I still give zero shits that people still think that's uncool.


11. I still could rewatch the whole of Grey's anatomy and never get bored.

12. I still adore Harry Potter.

13. I still truly believe I was meant to grow up at Hogwarts.

14. I still get bored easily and constantly need to be mixing things up.

15. I realised this year that I'm not invincible. I am a firm believer that with hard work you can achieve anything but sometimes I know I can take it a little far. At one point this year I had travelled to 5 different places in 6 weeks, been in 6 different time zones living off of 4 hrs sleep average and not only did I consistently feel like a bag of shit, but I was also not really performing the best I could. We all need a break and I'm not bloody superwoman so yeah, it took me 26 years to figure that out, but here we are.

16. I fall in love with grandads easier than Taylor Swift writes about men.

17. Why are grandad's so adorable, I need help with this please.

18. This year was the year that I started putting goals out to the universe rather than keeping them bottled up for fear of not achieving them. Basically I learned to not be a massive pussy wimp, it also made me work harder to achieve the goals.

19. Love can be the most painful goddamn motherfuckin thing in the world but it can also be the best. As terrifying as it is, it's better to put yourself out there, no regrets, and risk getting hurt 10x over than to hold back and not give it everything you have. And trust me, I get that it's not easy (this is coming from the girl that got told at least 7 times through dating that my guard is taller than the burj khalifa - not in those words fyi, far too witty for the chronically boring people I managed to match with) and I quite often fail to practise what I preach... but what I do know, wholeheartedly, is that when you finally let your guard down and give something/someone everything you've got, the happiness you can feel is like no other.

Now BRB whilst I vom into a bucket for cheesy/soppy messes.

20. Trust is earned when actions meet words. It also takes a long time to build and a very minimal amount of time to break. Be careful who you give it to and keep that circle small. Not everyone has your best interests at heart and the older I get, the better I get at recognising who deserves to be in my little circle.

21. I am buying my own house end of this year/next and as much as this makes me want to shrivel up into a little ball and die to say.... I'm really f**king proud of myself. I mean, it's in London so it'll be a shed, but I would've done it all by myself. Hard work really really does pay off.

22. I will always value self deprecation and being humble over arrogance confidence, especially misplaced confidence. To me, nothing is more attractive than someone who is incredible but doesn't even know how incredible they are.

23. Ryan Gosling is timeless isn't he? Just forever fit. 

24. My patience is still super shit and I'm so happy we're nearly at point 26.

25. Every day I feel more and more grateful for the life that I lead and I feel more and more grateful for every single person that engages with what I do. I will never be able to believe that I get to talk about things/people/places I love, get paid to do so, and have people take an interest in what I do. Thank you endlessly.

26. Age really is just a goddamn motherf**kin number. Do what you, when you want. Live life for you. Unapologetically.

Love 26 year old Elle, currently rewatching Gossip girl for the 4th time. Still drooling over Chace Crawford.

xx


© the Elle next door

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