The Perfect Socially Distanced Holiday: Camping on the Isle of Wight

Although lockdown seems to be easing globally, most people are still quite apprehensive about travelling – I certainly have been! Aside from falling ill or infecting others, which is essentially the worst outcome, the potential of arriving at your destination and having little to do due to most locations being closed or even experiencing a lockdown whilst you’re away is more than enough stress to put a damper on your holiday.

But of course, we all want a chance to get away from our daily routine and enjoy summer somehow. That’s why going on a camping trip is probably your best bet: you can safely drive to your location, pitch up a tent far away from other people and enjoy the novelty of minimal living, as well as wander about the gorgeous forests, lakes and beaches your country has to offer! If anything, a nature retreat is an excellent way to shake things up, especially for those of you that have been residing in bustling cities during the pandemic, have been overusing technology and have been struggling to find ways to stay active.

For those in the UK, I’d definitely recommend the Isle of Wight as a destination. Only a 3.5 hour drive from London, this little island is packed full of beautiful landscapes and quaint little towns to soak in. If you’d like some inspiration on where to camp, what to see and what to do, check out the list below!

1. Camping at Grange Farm

Grange Farm is a sizeable plot of land on the West coast of the Isle of Wight: with plenty of tent and caravan space to pitch on this gorgeous cliff side, access to the beach, cute animals on the farm, clean facilities and a farm shop, all your needs will undoubtedly be met here as your base. The Isle is incredibly small, and from one side to another is often no more than a 30 minute drive! This spot is excellent for getting to forests and key attractions too, with most locations a convenient 15 minute drive away.

2. Visiting the Needles

Visiting the Needles is a must when you’re here. When you arrive, you’ll find a cute fair like village with sailor-chic restaurants, shops and stalls selling anything from nic-nacs to icecream. You have the option to walk down to the beach with the view of the Needles, which is quite the journey, or you can buy a ticket to take the very quick and exciting chairlift route which I need to stress is not for the faint of heart. Just remember to take all your drinks, snacks and books/beach balls with you to the beach because once you’re down, it’s a long way back up. You’ll also have the chance to grab a boat tour around the cliffs if you fancy a closer look at the natural beauty.

3. Brighstone Forest

Brighstone forest is absolutely gorgeous and boasts a great variety of sights. From beautiful plains to dense forest hikes, it has a bit of everything and offers the perfect hiking route for beginners. We went to the small carpark by Strawberry Lane (can’t make this shit up) where we left our car and began a hiking route that starts off with a path through the forest up to the top of the hill. Once you’re at the top, you’ll have an incredible view of the entire West coast. (roughly a 2.5 hour round trip).

4. Firestone Copse

This little spot is a picturesque haven. The carpark doubles up as an amazing picnic area with benches scattered about, and if you simply want to have some snacks and drinks, or bring a few books to enjoy in the great outdoors, it has you covered. If you’d rather have a wander, which you will once you see the inviting routes that branch off this green space, just chuck your stuff in the car and begin your journey. There are dozens of routes available and it’s impossible to get lost because they all loop in on eachother and lead back to the car park – perfect for the anxious adventurers among you.

5. The town of Shanklin and Shanklin Chine

I absolutely regret going to Shanklin a few hours before we had to head home because, in all honesty, this place deserves a whole day for itself. A cute pastel coloured dream town host to the glorious Shanklin Chine and a surprisingly clean golden beach, it’s a hidden gem that you’ll be glad to discover. Enjoy browsing the adorable shop fronts, have a few drinks in one of the many historic pubs, walk through the Chine and chill at the beach for a perfect day.

Top 10 Things To Do In Istanbul (After Lockdown)

As devastating as it was to hear of the initial surge of Covid-19 related deaths in China a few months ago, I never did expect it to become a global pandemic that would significantly alter our lives for the forseeable future. It’s honestly indescribably awful to hear of deaths day in and day out, as well as watch nations struggle to cope with the unending pressure to make the right choices. It’s the main reason I didn’t really want to post about trivial things like food and travel, because, you know, firstly there’s a lot on people’s minds that are more important, and secondly, we can’t really go anywhere anyway. However, now that it’s clear this thing is around to stay for a little while, I feel as though posting for the sake of producing much needed light hearted content, especially for activity inspiration when this is all over, isn’t really the worst idea. Also, I’m going borderline insane from boredom and miss writing on here.

At the start of February (before the crisis took hold of Europe), I went to Istanbul with Chris, my boyfriend and main travel buddy, and although I would recommend going during a warmer season (April to September), we were quite lucky in that it was 14oC with blue skies for most of our trip. Though there is definitely a lot to cover in a city that sits both in Europe and Asia, I decided it would be useful to collate a list of 10 things you absolutely must do and see whilst at Istanbul, containing both mainstream and off the beaten track activities. Enjoy!

  1. Have a full Turkish breakfast at Lavender Kafe

I’m not really a breakfast person, but Turkey can make anyone a breakfast person because it’s more akin to a feast. Try the full breakfast works at the adorable Lavender Kafe near the Galata Tower: it has an excellent selection for a more than reasonable price. Trust me on this one.

2. Climb the Galata Tower

Providing an excellent panoramic view of Istanbul, as well as a great insight into its history, this tower is definitely a must see. Make sure to get there very early as queues can be quite ridiculous in peak season!

3. Visit the Hagia Sofia Mosque

Built around 536AD, this gorgeous mosque has gone through centuries of architectural tweaks and it really shows. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jesus in the glass stained windows of a mosque covered in Arabic prayers dedicated to Allah! Definitely worth a quick visit.

4. Taste some amazing Turkish desserts at Hafiz Mustafa

Turkey is well known for its desserts (ehem, baklava) and Hafiz Mustafa has every conceivable dessert known to the country, from the famous Kahramanmaras ice-cream to Kaymakli Ekmek, Asure and Kunefe. If you love sweet treats, you’ll definitely find one (or ten) thing that tickles your fancy on the 20-odd page menu.

5. Delve into the Basicila Cistern

The largest of numerous cisterns beneath Istanbul, and a location used in the 1963 James Bond film From Russia With Love, the Basilica Cistern is an architectural feat and a perfect spot for all the history buffs. 10 points to anyone who can get a photo that isn’t stupidly blurry from the poor lighting.

6. Try Shisha at Harabbe Cafe

There are hundreds of Shisha places across the city, but one kitsch place stands far above them all. Tucked in the back of an alley, this little haven has an amazing selection of food, drinks and shisha flavours, and offers both an outdoor and indoor seating area laden with cushions and edgy decorative features.

7. Wander around Topkapi Palace

I’ve seen a lot of impressive palaces on my travels, with ones in Venice and Tokyo really standing out, and wasn’t expecting to be blown away whilst in the taxi to Topkapi. Boy, was I wrong. After walking through the numerous gates, I was shocked to see such stunning buildings and landscaping perched against the Bhospurus watefront. As if the grounds weren’t beautiful enough, the interior design was some of the most magnificent I have ever seen. You aren’t really allowed to take pictures in there, so I couldn’t get many photos, but I’m sure there are more dotted about online.

8. Cruise on the Bosphurus

Even if you have nowhere specific to go, hopping onto any of the routes (for as cheap as 50p per way) across this vast sea is definitely a treat, especially because most boats serve tea on board! Buy some ice-cream beforehand, or simply have a nice cuppa and enjoy the view.

9. Go shopping on Istiklal Street

Rivalling Oxford Street and 5th Avenue in length, Istiklal Street is a long, long, street. But hey, long walks aren’t all that painful when filled with copius amounts of stores and restaurants to visit! Besides, there’s a cute albeit useless tram to look at on the way..

10. Chomp a famous kebab delicacy at Hamdi Usta

You could fall over and accidentally land on the doorstep of a kebab joint pretty much anywhere in Turkey, but one place that really stayed with me was Hamdi Usta on the Uskudar watefront (with a great view of the Kiz Kulesi by the way). Although a little annoying to get to, I recommend making the trip as it serves the one and only Cökertme Doner: tender lamb doner served on a bed of straw fries and baba ghanoush. They have quite a few delectable variations, as well as the standard kebabs you might expect at a Turkish restaurant. My pictures don’t do it justice, since I just wanted to eat immediately, but hey, you win some, you lose some.