The great orange chocolate hysteria of 2019

If you’ve read my blog from somewhere near the start (throwing it back to the Curious Alice Loves… days folks) you’ll know I’m a sucker for a trend a lot of the time, so I want to stay true to that aesthetic.

I’m also a sucker for chocolate.

Naturally, when a noteable combining both of these topics arose a few weeks ago, it peaked my interest. I think you know the one I’m talking about…

Cadbury Orange Twirl.

It was announced, the suspense built, the tabloids reported where it could be bought, my twitter feed was flooded with people trying in vain to get hold of a single bar to try, suspense and desire built for it more, Cadbury released more ample stocks into the wild to satiate people before the supply dwindled and again people were left hangry for the taste of what appeared to be the white tiger of the chocolate world.

For me – I had family members on the lookout, I mentioned this is every single group chat I was part of, I even changed the name of my work group chat to ‘Orange Twirl Watch Society’. Eventually, thanks to my pestering of everyone in my life, I got my hands on one (I say one, I actually mean one box. No, really.)

Well played Cadbury marketing team, well played. You created a hype, withheld supply to increase demand/limited edition-ness and didn’t have to spend mega bucks to do so.

So, this whole thing poses two questions. 1, does it live up to the hype in comparison to other orange chocolate products and 2, what is a good substitute if you can’t get your hands on one/when Cadbury stop making them (they’re promoted as a limited edition).

I got you on both counts.

I’ve done the leg work and reviewed orange chocolate products so you won’t have to, you can simply get the best one. Merry Christmas!

Orange Twirl

The new kid on the block. If you like Twirls and orange flavoured chocolate, you’re definitely going to be pleased with this creation of you ever manage to get hold of one. It is as nice as you’d hope for the effort it takes to get them!

Tip – I normally put my chocolate in the fridge (don’t @ me) to make it last longer when I eat it, however this is most definitely best eaten at room temperature accompanied by a good brew.

Terry’s Chocolate Orange bar

Arguably the original founder of the trend, but is it the best?

The smooth texture of the segments make for a silkier taste and allow more of the orange oil flavour to come through, so if you want something very orangey for a decent price then this is still very much a good shout.

Lindt Chocolate Orange bar

The more ‘luxury’ option, it takes on the traditional Lindt form with a softer centre. The squares on each bar are massive, so it could potentially mean you eat more than planned, however it’s so delicious you probably will anyway.

Very silky chocolate texture, lots of orange flavour, this would be an absolute delight of a chocolate to find in your Christmas stocking.

Matchmakers – chocolate orange flavour

Well, they’re an old classic and ’tis the season they usually get cracked out!

They’re very tangy with orange goodness, a little bit crispy and VERY dangeous as they’re so skinny you can easily eat the lot. But it’s Christmas, so what the hell!

Whether you’ve had an orange Twirl, haven’t and need a substitute or just like chocolate and want to justify it as one of your five a day (cos it’s orange flavoured, geddit) now you know what’s what.

I still can’t decide whether this post was a quirk of genius or just a bit weird, but thanks for reading either way!

J xx

Thanks for reading,

J xx


4 Simple Christmas decorations that look fab (that even I can make!)

It’s that time of year again…I don’t about you, but I’m in dire need of a little festive cheer in my life!

I’m not a craft person by any stretch of the imagination (apart from that one really decent wall thing I made the other year, which I’ll share below) but this year I really wanted to add as many festive touches as I could to my home without spending a fortune. So, a bit of Pinterest and a couple of herbdashery purchases later, I was in business!

The giant door bow

I’ve seen these loads on social media in the past, however the pre made ‘blingy’ ones were a bit too expensive and ornate for what I was looking for. The answer? Buy a massive length of organza and make your own!

I looped two long pieces width ways and length ways tied in a double not to secure, I then tied a rough bow with the remaining pieces and fanned out the bow until it looked more full. This took about 15 minutes in total, and I know the pieces fit so I can do it again next year.

Bauble table centres

This took literally a minute to do, and it meant I could use some more of the many (many, many) baubles in my collection!

Taking vases I bought from IKEA a few weeks ago, I simply kept some of the smaller baubles out and filled each case to the top.

It’s something extra to look at and used items I already had in the house but wasn’t using, so totally free. Win!

Hanging bauble feature

(Pinterest images have been used to display this one because the light was too bad to snap decent photos in when I’d finished)

This one took a little bit longer but was still super easy. When I was researching home made decorations, this was one of the first that popped up, and I knew I had plenty of leftover baubles to make it work!

Taking brown string (to keep with my theme, however coloured wool would also work really well) I looped a section through each bauble, not really caring if they were the same length, and tied them to my banister. I secured them in place with a small piece of sellotape just so they wouldn’t slide out of place.

This also looks great when hung in symmetrical lengths down a window

Paper wall fan

I don’t know what the official name for this would be, but that’s what I’m calling it! This one will take a little bit more effort (and some glue) but is a great mindful activity to relax, do with friends or get the kids involved.

Disclaimer – this is one I made about 3 years ago, however it’s still in perfect condition and I’ve used it every year since.

You’ll need – medium sized coloured cardboard circle, small coloured cardboard circle, glue (pva or prit stick) and small squares of patterned/coloured paper.

Take a piece of paper square and roll it into a cone shape, sealing the edges with glue. Using the medium cardboard circle as your base, glue them in a round shape until the circle has them all the way around. Repeat the process, but this time glue the paper cones above the first layer (this make the finished product more 3D). Once the second layer is complete, glue the small cardboard circle into the centre to hide the sticky bits. To finish, punch a hole in the top part of the medium circle, thread coloured ribbon through and hang where desired.

Whatever your level of skill and ‘can’t be arsed-ness’ there’s definitely something in the post you’ll be able to create!

Thanks for reading,

Jenny xx


So, what have you achieved in the past decade??

So, this tweet popped up in my Twitter feed a few days ago, I’m sure it’s popped up in yours too. Now, people’s answers to the tweet are popping into my feed too, which I’m really enjoying by the way, so naturally thought about what my own response would be.

Turns out, what I have achieved doesn’t fit into 280 characters! So, I thought I’d put it in a blog post instead.

*Dislciamer – no brags, no intent to make anybody feel bad, it’s only the passing of another year so isn’t such a massive deal. Remember “it’s not your age, it’s your stage” we don’t all do the same things, and if we do we’re not all meant do them at the same time.*

1. Got married

I was pretty quick off the blocks with this one and got hitched in March 2010. Neither of us can quite believe it was almost ten years ago! Marriage and relationships in general take a lot of work if you want them to be successful and fulfilling, so I’m proud because we’ve made it this far and still both want to out that work in.

2. Bought and sold two houses Shortly after getting hitched, I sold the first home I bought and bought our first joint house together. We lived there for about seven years before selling up (it never truly felt like home to me if I’m honest) spent a few months in rented accommodation before finding our current place and moving in last spring. This one truly feels like home and I love it.

3. Got a degree I definitely didn’t see this one coming! I decided to take a leap and go full time at university at the grand old age of 28, having become disillusioned with my career and where it was going. It was four years that at times I found really quite hard, but I made it through and doors have been opened for me as a result of the experience.

4. Started my blog 

Another one I didn’t see coming, but one of the things that has shaped my life the most over the past five years without a doubt. It’s given me a passion, a focus away from work, experience to be able to get a foot into my current career, introduced me to new friends/experiences/brands. I still have so much more to learn and that I want to achieve, so there will be a big focus on that as 2020 rolls around.

5. Changed career I used to be a mortgage advisor and now I work in marketing. It’s a much better use of my interests and skills. I’ve been able to work at some really interesting companies so far (my first few jobs were fixed term contracts) and I have a clear direction as to where I want my career to go.

6. Passed my driving test Again, didn’t see this one coming, I NEVER saw this one coming! After I graduated, I thought “if I can do a degree, I can do this”. That pragmatic and more level headed approach ensure that I could in fact do that! I used to think I was just one of those people not meant to drive, with hindsight I think I just needed a more mature approach than I had at 17.

7. Worked hard to achieve some health goals

Although I may have to skirt over the fact that I’ve taken a few backward steps since achieving them!

I’ve been unhappy with myself for as long as I can remember and decided that I needed to sort that out once and for all before I hit 30. I focussed very diligently on achieving my goal for about three years, and by the start of 2013 I was at a place that I felt comfortable and was maintainable to me. I stayed that way for three years before a combination of re-entering full time work and some extreme stress forced my good habits to die hard and never really return.

I want to set myself some new goals but have been a bit scared to do so, however I’ve going started small and try to be less harsh on myself throughout the journey.

8. Visited some interesting and beautiful places I adore travel and find it very relaxing and fulfilling, but I’d forgotten just how many wonderful trips I’ve had in the past decade. To name a few – Barbados (honeymoon), New York (twice), Las Vegas, Barcelona, Tuscany, Santorini and Mykonos.

9. Met some wonderful people My life choices have led me to meeting some of my very favourite people – uni, blogging and work have all introduced and re-introduced such a variety of of friendships into my life that I’m very grateful for. I also became an auntie twice, and those kids are two of the best humans I spend time with.

10. Entered a new decade of my own

Yup, I officially entered my dirty thirties. Doesn’t sound like much of an achievement, I didn’t do anything to be born, however I do take credit for the fact that I’ve made it this far having encountered some pretty awful bumps along the way. I definitely haven’t made through completely in tact, but I’m still here so I’ve made it, and I’m happy with that.

Looking back over the past ten years and realising exactly what has happened in my life has been pretty positive and reassuring to me. I sometimes have a tendency to forget the good stuff if I’m having a particularly stressful time, so it’s nice to be reminded there’s a lot of good amongst the occasional less good.

I would encourage everyone to review the past decade and remember some of the great things that have happened…you may be surprised by what you uncover!

Thanks for reading,

J xx


3 Tips for having a good staycation

Having some time off work but not going on holiday? Read on my friend…

After enjoying three holidays abroad this year, a house to finish decorating and with one week of annual leave left, a staycation was the only option my bank balance would accept (for clarity, I class a staycation as having time off and not going on holiday).

It’s important to remember that most of the time we have annual leave to allow ourselves to have a period of rest away from a working environment, however if you don’t do this productively (quite an oxymoron I know) you could end up getting back to work and feeling like you’ve wasted this valuable time. So, I propose that you follow these three simple rules that will give you the best chance to recharge your batteries and feel accomplished:

1 – Have one period of adulting

I guarantee there’ll be jobs you’ve been saving until you ‘have time’ to do them. This is the time! But make it count – write out a list of those jobs and get them done in one go and before you do anything else. If you don’t you’ll end up doing them in bits and bobs through the week and breaking up other quality time, or rushing to cram them in at the end which will likely make you feel a bit frazzled. Getting it done up front will instantly make you feel accomplished, take a weight off and move your vibe towards chill mode.

2 – Plan out you time

Mapping out what you’re going to do means you can use all of the time you have to its fullest advantage and know what to look forward to and when.

Even if you plan to do nothing, plan the days/times of you’re going doing nothing so you can prepare – make sure your fave PJs/loungewear are freshly washed, you’re fully stocked up on snacks and Netflix is primed to take you to binge watch heaven.

3. Do SOMETHING, even if it’s just one day/night

It doesn’t have to be far, it doesn’t have to cost a lot, hell if you’re forgetful like me it could even be free!

Do you have any vouchers for a spa treatment/hotel stay/restaurant/theme park that you got as a gift and have been waiting to use? Now is the time, I enjoyed a lovely mid week stay at Thorpe Park Hotel from one of last year’s Christmas gifts.

Have a look around to see if any of your favourite cafes/restaurants/bars do special offer during the week that you wouldn’t normally be able to enjoy. We managed to find one of our favourite pizza places had an insane lunch deal that was about half the price of the usual menu. Good food, less money, happy you.

You don’t have to think drastically outside the box, you ould simply do the things you’d do outside of office hours, just with more time and less people. Enjoy a day walking around the shops and a lazy lunch, visit family members you don’t see as often as you’d like or hit the gym and enjoy the freedom of getting on any piece of equipment you want.

So there it is – not rocket science, just quick wins that you may not think of when you’re tunnel visioned on the concept of ‘not being at work’. Now, off you go to enjoy yourself!

Thanks for reading,

J xx


5 Things to do in Tuscany

This holiday was a press trip hosted by Bookings For You. Some of activities featured in this post have been gifted (marked with *) however all words and opinions are (as always) 100% mine.

And so we get to the final post about my Italian advertures… It’s really all over now. Sob.

BUT – I do get to share some of the fabulous things I did, saw and (my favourite) tasted, so if you’re heading to Tuscany inthe future you know some of the great things to experience in the area.

  • Take a food tour

One of the key reasons I wanted to visit Italy was to eat, so having someone show me the best places to do it made perfect sense!

We did the Private Florence Food Tour courtesy of LivItaly* which consisted of four stops.

The first was wine and nibbles at Enoteca Alessi and I legit have never seen a room so filled with alcohol in my life… (check out the Italy 2019 story highlight on my Instagram to get a better view) It was quite the work of art really.

As well as some the region’s best Chianti, I was introduced to mushroom and truffle oil sandwiches, yummy local cheeses and THE BEST pork I’ve ever tasted.

Next up we stopped at a local street food vendor that’s been established for decades to try something a little different. The picture below is what I had – a crusty bread roll with seasoned tripe which was delicious (there were also veggie options available for those in our group who had flagged this in advance).

Moving on to a sit down mini feast (with more wine, hic) at Aqua Al 2 whic is a great little eatery off a one of the side streets decorate with fairly lights and plates designed and signed by previous celebrity visitors.

Everything we ate here was meat free, and we had three dishes – this deliciously simple pasta made with thick noodles, garlic, tomato, basil and oil, an eggplant/spinach/parmesan dish (I can’t remember the remember the name) and (something else I’ve forgotten the name of) a dish of fresh tomatoes seasoned with oil and basil that I gratuitously spread on fresh bread. Everything tasted so rich, delicious and comforting, which is what I’d hoped Italian food would be.

We rounded off the tour with dessert – gelato in the main Piazza.

This place is well known for their blackberry flavour, however I wanted to have somethind traditionally Tuscan so the staff selected me a combo of Italian cream and chocolate in a cone.

Our guide Rafaella was just the best, by the end of the day I was calling her Mama Italia and asking her to adopt me (which she seemed very amenable to) she was so kind an knowledgeable and genuinely keen to ensure we had a great day.

  • Take an art class

So this one probably sounds like it caters to a very specific interest, and it definitely can, but we had the opportunity to do something that was easy to follow and therefore we’ll within my cabaility.

The lovely Lisa from Arte Al Sole introduced us to a Canadian artist called Jen who took us through the process of Florentine paper making. This basically involved dropping paint into water, making pretty patterns and transferring them onto paper (I’m leaving out a lot of the technical bit in this discription).

I end up doing three ‘prints’ as I kept seeing everyone else’s colour combinations and wanting to copy! I’ve brought all of them home and will definitely be finding a place for them on my walls.

(Its also worth mentioning that Arte Al Sole offer a lot of family, kids and private art and cultural experiences throughout Italy; including those where they’ll take your little ones away to activities for a little bit whilst you enjoy the culture and surroundings, uninterrupted.)

  • Enjoy a wine tasting

As we were staying on a vineyard, it would’ve been rude not to sample the Mansalto Toscano produce!

Francesca, who was also our main contact and host for the villa, introduced us to their Chianti and rose brut prosecco.

This is without exception the best prosecco I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve already reached out to Francesca to arrange to buy and ship some of it back to the UK.

As an extra treat, we also met one of the wine makers who gave us a tour of the wine cellar.

This may be one of the last times the general public are allowed in the barrel room – apparently having people in there can risk bacteria contaminating the wine which could alter the taste, and I think we can all agree it’d be a shame to let some bloody good grapes to waste by doing that.

  • Learn how to cook the real Italian way

Its all very well eating your way around Italy, but if you also learn a few culinary tips then you can bring the magic home to your own kitchen!

Thanks to the very kind Massimo, we visited his restaurant Massimo Rossi Belvedere to try our hand at a bit of pasta making. We tried a few different varieties such as lasagne, ravioli and tagliatelle, all of which the Belvedere chefs cooked for us (as well as add delicious sauces) for us to enjoy the fruits of our labour.

I’m going to be honest and say that this was not my strongest skill of the week (I’d also started to get really poorly so was a shivering, blubbering wreck) however I clocked the gals who did well in preparation for a future dinner invitations. I also learnt how to make lasagne the real Italian way (no pasta top, parmesan in every layer) which I’ve since tried at home.

Massimo’s generosity bookmarked both ends of our visit – on the first night of our stay he sent Paolo, one of his chefs, to our villa to cater our very own pizza party. And my word, the man knows how to put a topping on a nice bit of dough. I know I’ve said this a lot throughout this post, but this is geuinely the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. I tried pizza elsewhere on our trip, and it was nice (obviously, its still pzza after all) but it didn’t come anywhere close to this.

  • Wander around Italian towns and cities

I may not be lucky enough to visit this part of the world again, I took every opportunity to cram in time everywhere I could, it made things a bit more tiring but I’d encourage this as it helped me really appreciate the beauty of the whole region.

Siena

Siena was about 30 minutes away from the villa by car. It was filled with delicious smelling leather stores, cute little cafes and vintage stores (I was on the cusp of being enticed by a 1950s Chanel handbag).

Florence

Oh Florence. If you’re in Tuscany, please don’t miss this off your list! I enjoyed my time here so much I got a bit teary when staring up at the Duomo, which is an absolutely massive and very beautiful marble building.

Getting into the main building, g is free, but the real money shot is by paying 18€ and climbing 414 steps to the top of this tower to see the whole of Florence. If you’re physically able to, do it. It nearly finished me off but it was worth it, and I suppose it did work off some of the food we had earlier in the day…

Pisa

Pisa is very pretty, but there’s not loads and loads to do so a couple of hours is perfect.

We got up a couple of hours early before our flight home and stopped to see the Leaning Tower and have one last pizza (priorities) I genuinely thought it was going to just be ‘one more thing to say I’ve seen’ but I was actually blown away but how stunning the building is in real life. Its made of beautiful marble and has other buildings around it that are just as gorgeous.

I obviously tried to get the typical tourist shot of touching the tower, but I sucked so I’m not posting it! As you can imagine, it’s very busy with people taking photos, so be prepared to nail the photos you want quickly or have photo bombers.

The streets of Pisa are very pretty and colourful to wander down and sit to enjoy a drink and watch the world go by.

Walking back to the car we noticed there was a gorgeous botanical garden but didn’t have time to go in, definitely one to look out for on a wander of the city.

Certaldo Alto

This is more of a Hamlet than a town, situated very high up on a hillside.

First of all, the journey up here makes for some pretty incredible views

Its possible to drive up, but we parked in the town below and rode up on the Funicolare (a cable car thingy) which cost 1,50€ for a return trip and took about 5 minutes to reach the top.

The views were pretty great when we got there too!

It’s a beautiful Medieval walled town that has beautiful Italian buildings that house eateries, shops and galleries. Quite a bit more than you’d expect from a tiny place!

We were lucky enough to get a guided walk around by Arte Al Sole’s Lisa (and her lovely pooch Archibald, who I got to walk)

At the top is this beautiful Town Hall run by a Mayoral staff and where couples can marry for the bargain price of 550€ – the photo opportunities up there for your big day are IMMENSE.

And that, as that say, is a wrap on Italy 2019! Such a great experience, huge thanks once again to Bookings For You on and Violet Glenton for providing such an awesome location and itinerary to enjoy!

Thanks for reading,

J xx


5 Outfits I wore in Italy

Items gifted have been marked with a *

As you’ll have seen from my previous post, I recently went on a wonderful Italian adventure courtesy of Bookings For You and fellow HEY Blogger Violet which meant, yup you guessed it, packing too many items of clothing into a small space and worrying about how you’ll close it (and later, how you’ll close it again before you go home)

I thought a lot more about my holiday wardrobe for Italy for a couple of reasons – firstly because I knew the weather wouldn’t be height of summer hot, secondly because of the variety of activities I’d be doing (including driving, something I’ve never done out of the UK) and finally because it’s Italy and I wanted to feel nice.

For a four night stay I managed to pack in a fair few outfits, but I’ve picked out five of my faves to share

Photo by Olivia Lennon

This is what I’m calling my “I’ve partied hard, but only ’til 10pm” look. As soon as I saw the bold print of this shirt dress I knew it had to be mine, and in a bizarre twist my nan also picked up a pair of wide leg trousers in the very same print on a recent shopping trip…great style runs in our family it seems! I’d definitely suggest sizing up one or two in this frock if you have bigger boobs as the fabric doesn’t have any give, it easily clinches back in with the attached belt so the shape isn’t lost. The biker jacket was necessary for the chill or early mornings and evening, and made me feel a bit more cool and Italian.

Dress, Matalan* (sold out online) / Jacket, ASOS / Shades, ASOS

Photo by Olivia Lennon

for me a skater dress is an absolute essential wardrobe item as it’s simple to style, throw in a cute print and it really does make dressing just that little bit easier! The fabric of this is very soft and stretchy so moves really well when out exploring, and I picked it up for the bargain price of £22! It’s a great transition piece into the colder months too; sack on some tights and boots and hey presto. I picked up the hat last year before heading to Santorini last year and it just felt like it would add some cuteness and glam whilst in the Italian countryside.

Dress, Next / Hat, Accessorize (Similar item here) / Shades, ASOS / Sandal, borrowed from Emma Picks (similar style here)

I have lived in this frock since buying it at ten start of summer! Soft jersey, fit to flatter my hourglass shape and the length makes it appropriate for a variety of occasions. I added in my trusty Converse as I was walking around the beautiful streets of Siena, but switch them out for a pair of heels and you instantly have a more dressed up look.

Dress, Dorothy Perkins (sold out online, the A/W print in the same style is linked here) / Trainers, Converse / Shades, ASOS

Photo by Olivia Lennon

This dress was such a hit with our group that two of us brought it away with us, and a further three went on to wear or buy it! It’s easy to see why – great colour, lovely ditsy print, fantastic shape that shows off shoulders and cleavage and hugging curves. I adore it so much. As my hair is kinda short I enlisted my tried and trusted clip in bun and fashioned this low up do thingy, it’s actually more fiddly than a high bun but makes for such an elegant look.

Dress, ASOS (Sold out) / Sandals, Dorothy Perkins (similar style here) / Bun, Hair Rehab London

Dress, Next / Shades, ASOS / Trainers, Converse

I’ve always been a “if the shoe fits, buy it in every colour” kind of a gal, so it will come as no surprise that this dress is the same style as the leopard print one from before. I also have it in black and white floral (which I’m actually wearing as I type) and red polka dot. They’re just so easy to wear and fantastic value! This version was more of an impulse buy on the way to the till with the leopard number, I love the retro feeling of the floral print. As the weather gets cooler I’m definitely going to have a go at styling it with a roll neck underneath as it is on the website.

Hopefully this has given you some inspiration for holiday style a little later in the year, as well as items that can be just as wearable when you’re back home. Maybe I a, getting a bit better at this shopping smarter malarkey after all…

Thanks for reading,

J xx


My first trip to Italy*

This post is in collaboration with Bookings For You – Accommodation was provided for free for the purposes of review. Photos is this post are those I took myself and photography from the Mansalto Tuscany website unless stated. As always, words and opinions expressed are 100% mine. Enjoy!

I’ve officially been to Italy. Bucket list item, check!

As part of trip that was the brainchild (and also professional dream) of Violet Glenton, I joined 9 other girls on a four day adventure to the Tuscan countryside at the beginning of October and I had the BEST time.

Meet the gang! (just out of shot from left) Becky, Em, Steph, Ashton, Liv, meeee, Emma, Amy, Violet and Charl

With the help of Bookings For You who were kind enough to provide our accommodation, Vi booked us into Villa le Tornaie

Hidden in the beautiful hills of the Mansalto vineyard, the villa is surrounded by green for miles and feels completely chill.

In short, this villa is the archetypal Italian country dream. Pretty stone buildings, lots of flowers, wood rustic furniture and clean white bedding, exactly what I pictured and EXACTLY what I got.

There’s a wonderful courtyard area that helped connect the upstairs and downstairs living areas and it was one of my favourite areas. Standing above and gazing over the Tuscan countryside became my absolute favorite spot and felt like something out of a Shakespeare play. Demonstrated nicely above by Emma and Amy re-enacting Romeo and Juliet for my pleasure!

Everywhere you look was a beautiful sot to admire or snap a photos of

We had a pretty large kitchen that had a modern hob (the same as the one I have at home so at first I was the only one who knew how to use it) dishwasher and plenty of utensils. We were able to have a few of us in here at once without getting up in anyone’s grill.

What you can’t see out of shot is the fridge/freezer (fairly standard size for a family and fit in a LOT of pasta/chees/fruit/prosecco) and a 6 person table which we used to store more food and drink on (favouring the long table in the main living area)

The main living area is massive, there were a few more couches than you can see pictured but yes you can also spy a piano in the top right corner which several members of group had a little turn on (shout out to Violet for her her rendition of Adele’s Hometown Glory). We had some lovely communal breakfasts and dinner here. There was also a couple of lovely wrought iron tables in the courtyard which were lovely to sit at and enjoy a morning brew or evening glass of wine.

Bedrooms – well; I genuinely had no option but to use the website images of these as a group of 10 gals makes for clothes and beauty products flung all over the place! I stayed in this twin room with Emma (the furniture had been re-arranged prior to our stay) which had lots of room and firm but comfy beds. The bathroom was a good size overall and had room to put all of our toiletries and towels.

The double/master rooms were equally roomy had a stunning airy quality with some event having four poster beds for extra Italian glamour.

Now, I’ve stayed in villas many times before, but this one was just a bit extra when it came to what was available away from the bedrooms and living areas!

So obviously, there’s the pool. I’ve purposely picked the snap I took when it was slightly overcast so that you can see how lovely it still is, and huge! Lots of sunbeds (that have these cool visor flaps you can use to shade your face) and not overlooked by any other property, nothing but rolling hills of the vineyard in sight.

Inside downstairs is where it really gets exciting…

Disclaimer: the bottom right image is stock photography and is present as an example only.

Why go to a spa when it can come to you? As well as the pool our villa had a large jacuzzi (I think it seats about 8) gym, sauna AND steam room (each of these seat about 4 comfortably) that the whole group put to excellent use at all hours of the day and night.

I think this kind of villa would best suit a large family group, couples or a relaxing getaway for a group of ladies. However, realistically it would be great for almost every kind of group!

Top tips for visiting this area:

– Driving is a must. We flew to Pisa Airport which is about 2 hours away, the nearest taxis are based in Siena around 30 minutes away so the alternative would be far more pricey. Our group of ten hired two 5 seater automatic cars through Ecovia which cost approximately £135 each for 4 days and included fully comprehensive insurance

– We flew from Manchester with Easyjet (my first time with them, which I was pleasently suprised by) who also fly to Pisa from a few other airports around the UK. The main flight days seem to be Tuesday and Saturday

– Pack bug spray; mosquitos WILL eat you outside if you don’t

There’s some video footage of the villa and my Italy trip in full saved as an Instagram story highlights if you want to get a whistle-stop of everything I did. I’ll be doing another couple of posts shortly on some fun things to do in Tuscany, as well as outfit inspiration for a trip away in the late summer weather, so keep your eye out for those.

If you’re sold by the idea of taking your own Tuscan getaway, take a look at this and the other accommodation available on the Mansalto property. If you fancy exploring other areas, Bookings For You also offer a range of handpicked accommodation in other areas of Italy and France including Umbria, the lakes and Provence.

Thanks for reading,

J xx