Relaxing walk in a Birmingham Park

Relaxing walk in a Birmingham Park

Get some air while here.

Birmingham is an amazing city, especially if you have planned a trip with your kids, since there are amazing parks to visit and choose from. Let’s breakdown some of the beautiful parks you can visit after a morning in the comfort of your  self catering apartment or serviced apartment.


Cannon Hill Park
Cannon Hill Park

In Canon Hill Park you will find 5 tennis courts, a bowling green and a mini-golf course all located in the central area. You will also find a children min fun fair that operates during the weekends, there are boats that operate in the lakes during summer. You can also take a walk in the park good way to keep fit.  Cannon Park is not far outside city centre and very near some of our self-catering serviced apartments.


Kings Heath Park
    Kings Heath Park

This is the first urban park in Birmingham to achieve a Green Flag status which covers a wide range of acres. The area situated around the main house and conservatory features high quality seasonal bedding schemes, shrubs and a renovated pool area.


Eastside City Park is Birmingham’s first new City Centre park in over 100 years. This park is the largest single piece in Birmingham City Centre; you can also take a walk to this park.  Ideal for a relaxing time while on a short stay.


Lickey Hill Country Park
Lickey Hill Country Park

The Lickey Hill Country Park is one of the oldest parks managed by Birmingham. Here you will find Beacon Hill which is the most famous view at the Lickey Hills Country Park, the hills rises above sea level giving extensive views of the surrounding countryside.


Handsworth Park
Handsworth Park


Handsworth Park occupies a large acre of land in the centre of Handsworth and is a welcome oasis for the many people who visit the area. This park has been the heart of the community for a couple of years, and following its revival it continues to be popular for families, dog walkers and school going children.

There are other activities to enjoys in the Birmingham other than the parks, from art and culture, sightseeing, museum and gallery, visiting historic churches or nature reserves without breaking a bank and melting the plastic.

Birmingham is an amazing city, especially if you have planned a trip the family, you can chose to visit a number of wonderful parks.  Let’s breakdown some of the beautiful parks you can visit after a morning in the comfort of your serviced apartment or self-catering apartment.


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Grand Central Rail Station
Grand Central Rail Station

Birmingham has become one of the most visited cities and is England’s second largest with dynamic diversity and culture. These aspects have propelled the city into an international destination for events, festivals, high quality shopping, award winning restaurants and an active night life. A short stay holiday break here can never be dull. From the comfort of your own serviced apartment get a combination of art, comedy festivals, orchestra, and self prepared cuisine from your kitchenette and read literature from your living room away from home.

While in Birmingham, the new Grand Central station is hard to miss, its an upgrade of the old New Street station it opened its doors in September 2015 after a costly superb refurbishment estimated to be over £100 million . Along with the original Birmingham New Street station, the new mall has an amazing glass atrium roof as a centerpiece that covers a combination of over 60 high quality fashion brand stores, cafes, restaurants and department stores. This has made Birmingham an investment hotspot with its world class status. Being one of the most spectacular places in the city of a thousand trades, Grand Central opens as early as 6.30am and closes at 11pm with most restaurants open until closing time. With 24 hour parking that is charged hourly and close to 500 parking spaces with great security, shopping and having fun at the station is relaxing and convenient.

Grand Central
John Lewis Anchor tenant in Grand Central Birmingham

With facilities like ATM machines, toilets and assistance desks, there would be no occasion for panic. Take a walk around the fashion stores with big entities like John Lewis, Carluccio’s, Nando’s, Tortillas, Square pie, yakinori and many others then take as many photos  and use their free wifi to upload and share your moments.  While you dine beneath the majestic glass canopy explore and enjoy the array of international restaurants infused with authentic tastes of Birmingham, colleague took a trip down here and told me about how close his self catering suite was to the grand central and how easy it was to access the services and supplies to entertain his guests.  Staycity has excellent serviced apartment in the area.  Other serviced apartment companies are  Comfortzone Apartments and City-Nites.

Sea Life Birmingham
    Sea Life Birmingham

I wouldn’t worry about a thing while in Birmingham with the good English charm, spectacular self catering suites and the array of activities and places to visit. A family trip would be worth it.

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Croatian Islands a holiday to remember

Croatian Islands a holiday to remember

Croatia is a beautiful coastal country in the Balkan region of Europe.


It has a huge coastline on the  Adriatic Sea.  Its a superb location for self-catering  holiday homes  individually owned holiday homes.  Dubrovnik is a World Heritage Site wonderful place to visit.  But Croatia other wonderful areas where you can have a wonderful holiday is their Islands. Let’s take a trip to the beautiful islands of Croatia, having your self catering apartment booked and ready to start your holiday in one of the beautiful island.  Here you will find exquisite array of gorgeous islands, each offering its own uniqueness of attractions and sites.  There are several Croatian islands from small rock to islands in the Mediterranean.  Here are some of the creation islands you can visit while on your holiday.

The KRK Island

It is located in the Western Europe, its closest to the Croatian mainland. Its connected to the mainland by a bridge which makes it easier to access. The island has beautiful landscapes, gentle bays, there are rocky hills and fertile fields and the fields are ideal for captivating grapes. There are activities like scuba diving, jet and waterskiing, paragliding too.  It has great holiday accommodation.


The Island of RAB

This Island is located on the northern coast of Croatia. Rab is the home of a wide collection of botanical life, including non-native plants, it also home to numerous plants and trees some as old as 100 years.  Rab is one of the greenest island in the Adriatic sea due to the existence of more than 300 freshwater springs on the islands.  The warm summers and mild winters makes it an exceptional place to visit from time to time.


The Kornati island is sprinkled with a breathtaking vineyards, olive trees, and fig trees.   Tourist can take a stroll along the meandering pathways to enjoy a view of the open sea from one of the big cliffs rising up from these islands.  If you are looking to get back to the basics and enjoy beauty of island life, the Kornati Island is a perfect fit.  Book our ideal self-catering accommodation and explore the Island.

Kornati Island
Kornati Island


This is the greenest island, most rural and most of it is covered by forests the rest by fields, vineyards and small villages.  The beach are not crowded and beautiful to visit. The island contains two salt lakes namely Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero, that are located at the western end of the island. Like the other Island in this area holiday rental accommodation are readily available.

Visovac Monastery Croatia

There are a thousand reasons to bring you back to the Croatians Islands.  Access is mostly by Ferry or bridge from the mainland.


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Baking a Portuguese Tart Is sometimes An Art

Baking a Portuguese Tart Is sometimes An Art

Every society and community has its items of pride.  The Irish speak of Guinness with an air of supreme joy and rightly so.  The English speak of their football team as if it should wins every world cup and with their pool of talent rightly so.  But to be fair when you arrive on a holiday to Lagos in Portugal’s Algarve  one of their proudest boasts is not just their soccer team.  The humble Pastel de Nata is spoken about with reverence showing a national pride in a small custard cake.Today I would like to pass onto to you a recipe for the now wonderful famous Portuguese Tart “Pastel de Nata”

Patio Do Convento

A friend of mine was lucky enough to go on a family-self-catering-holiday-Lagos on the Western Algarve.  All the small cafes were serving these beautiful little custards tarts.  Eventhought she was staying in her own holiday home there was no way she would or to be fair could bake.   But she was raving about these little tarts when she got home so I decided with a level of success to give them ago.  Here is the recipe I used.

Portuguese Tart
 Portuguese Tart


Key Ingredients

  • 1 whole egg + 2 egg yolks
  • 115 grams caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 200ml cream
  • 200ml milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry

The tarts made from these ingredients serves up to twelve people.  But you can still double the ingredients if you want to make them for a large number of people, still you reduce the ingredients if the people you are serving is small.


  • In a large bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolks, then add the required amount of sugar and cornflour till the mixture combines, then whisk in the cream and milk until the mixture has a fine texture.
  • Pre – heat the pan in low heat and cooking, ensure constant stirring, this helps in thickening the mixture and enables it to boil.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Transfer the custard into a bowl to allow it to cool. Cover the custard with a cling film to prevent another layer from forming.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C, and lightly grease a 12-hole 80ml muffin tray.
  • The oven should be set to 200c and oil the tray to avoid sticking.
  • Slice the puffed pastry sheet in sizes of half, place one half on top of the other, and put it aside for roughly 5 minutes.
  • Roll the pastry tightly and cut the pastry log into twelve 1 cm rounds. Flour the surface and roll the pasty using a rolling pin and ensure that each disc is thin and 10cm in diameter.
  • Form the pastry rounds into the muffin tin, and then spoon the custard into pastry cases.
  • Set the time to 20 minutes or until the pasty and custard are golden, the top of the custard should be blackened in some places if not then the custard is not ready.
  • Leave the tarts in the baking tin for 5 minutes or so and transfer them to wire rack to cool completely.
  • Sprinkle some cinnamon and icing sugar and the tart is ready to be served.
  • Cakes
       Portuguese Cakes

The beauty of serving your tart in your own self catering apartment is that you can sit anywhere around the house and enjoy whether alone or with guest.  We have no doubt apart from great memories the vision of those tarts will remind you of your wonder holiday in Lagos or some other great location like Albufeira where ever you rented your holiday property.


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Midleton to become center of excellence for Equestrian Dressage

Midleton to become center of excellence for Equestrian Dressage

We have in the past wrote about the Paddocks Holiday Village in East Cork in the South of Ireland. John and Ber Twomey manage a well run short stay and holiday home complex. The self-catering complex in Broomfield which is located in the north of Midleton, Co Cork.

The Paddocks
Ivery at The Paddocks Equestrian Arena

They also have  the Paddocks Equestrian Center which is fast becoming an Irish Center of excellence for dressage.

To get there if your coming from Cork and the opposite direct Waterford turn into Midleton off the N 25 . Make your way along the R626 which the Main Street, about halfway down the street turn onto the R627 following the direction to Dungourney and Tallow, Co Waterford. Continue on you ll pass the entrance to the Jameson Distillery on your right. A further half a mile and you ll see The Paddocks sign posted to the left.

Continue half a mile up Kathleen Doyles Hill until you see the entrance to the Paddocks on your left.

My journey today doesn’t end at the holiday village today I want to take a closer look at the equestrian centre the Twomeys have established.

Dressage Arena
   Dressage Arena at The Paddocks

They have 2 arenas both by the hour and by the day, The indoor arena is of an International standard with sand underfoot. It also boasts of a substantial viewing area. Acoustic sound equipment excellent lighting and an area for videoing.

John Twomey has told us that the outdoor arena has a surface mix of sand and fibre similar to top equestrian centres in Europe. On top of all that they have a grass arena with a specialized drainage system. This area is ideal show jumping and dressage.

Jildau Lanens has joined The Paddocks team and she has won national and international acclaim in the area of dressage

Horses at Paddocks
Horses at Paddocks

Going forward The Paddocks intends to focus very much dressage. The South Munster Youth Dressage Development Training will be holding a development event. This will be conducted by International Grand Prix Rider and HSI High Performance Pony and Junior Team Manager, Anne Marie Dunphy . It will take place at The-Paddocks-Midleton on Sunday 22nd November 2015

Subsidised cost per 40min private lesson is €40. We are told it is open to all DI members under 25, priority given to South Munster members and then on a first come-first served basis. Please contact the Paddocks to arrange stabling if required at the venue. Bookings through Keith Spillane 087–892–4547.


Self-catering-accommodation Cork can also be got either at the-Paddocks-Holiday-Village or neighbour complexes like Fota and others. Check on for all your self-catering Cork needs.

Stay with South Munster Dressage a number of Training Dates are announced with Annmarie Dunphy

The dates of Regional Training with Annmarie Dunphy are as follows :-
• Thursday 26th November
• Thursday 17th December

For information on regional training, please contact Keith Spillane at 087–892–4547.


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ITS FINALLY HERE!!!!!! Yes! The time of the year that almost everybody awaits. Want to experience what Birmingham has to offer you this season? You can start by securing your accommodation at a self-catering- rental or maybe a serviced-apartment because there is a lot this glorious city has to offer this time of year that you really do not want to miss out on.

Birmingham Library
                                                                            Birmingham Library

Apart from Santa, various artists and bands will be coming to town.

World reknowned rock band, Nickleback, has been touring the world in  support of their new album No fixed address and guess what!!! They will be having a concert at the Venting arena in  Birmingham on the 21st of November 2015.

Singer/Songwriter Paul Weller will be having a 10 date arena tour in the winter and will be heading to the Barclay Card Arena on the 27th of November.   One of our serviced apartments accommodations providers  City-Nites  is located meters  from the Barclaycard-Arena  ideal location for your short stay

The awaited Birmingham International Tattoo, where world class performers join local performers to create a three hour spectacle with over 1000 performers this is the biggest indoor international tatoo in Britain. You really do not want to miss this. It will be held from the 28th to 29th of November at the Barclay Card Arena.

Barclaycard Arean
                                                              Barclaycard Arena

The BBC awards this year will be hosted in Birmingham at the Genting arena on Thursday the 10th of December. This years awards will feature performances from Ellie Goulding, Hozier, Jess Glynne, Little Mix, Mumford and Sons, OMI and One direction. Tickets can be purchased from

Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas market and craft market set to start on the 12th of November  is on going and will be running till the 22nd of December. Said to be the largest Christmas market in Britain with over 180 stalls you will definitely experience different aspects of culture from amazing food to beautiful works of art, its an amazing opportunity to shop for gifts and souvenirs. With people coming from all over the UK and Europe for the exhibition you can be sure not to be disappointing

Birmingham at Christmas time
                                                                               Birmingham at Christmas time

Cinderella, the first ever production of its kind, the worlds biggest pantomime with a cast of over 100 including stars Bradley Walsh, Paul O’Grady and Dick and Dom. This one is definitely one not to miss featuring that largest panto stage ever and a 50 ft high castle, if you have kids, the kids will definitely love it. Its going to be a brilliant family show at the Barclaycard-Arena.

Dont forget are provide you with excellent serviced-apartment-accommodation ideally located to attend any of these events.

Dubrovnik Croatia, the Pearl of the Adriatic

Dubrovnik Croatia, the Pearl of the Adriatic

Dubrovnik Croatia, the Pearl of the Adriatic.

 Dubrovnix inside the walls

Dubrovnik, one of the most beautiful cities in the world is located on the Croatian region of Dalmatia. Having existed since the 7th century, Dubrovnik lies along the coast of the Adriatic sea with beautiful beaches and old ancient walls. A unique feature is the short period of sun that lasts at most 8 hours yet the weather is warm and breezy. It is a perfect holiday destination with plenty of tourists especially from across Europe. Most residents speak Croatian and English fluently and are happy to teach visitors a word or two in Croatian. A three hour flight from London will get you to this destination which is always active with plenty of engagements for a holiday makers. International tourists taking a flight to this city land at Dubrovnik international airport located approximately 12 miles from the city centre. Buses and taxis are readily available to all neighborhoods from dawn till late night.

From its history, the city is surrounded by well preserved medieval walls used as a shield during the war. The walls are now historic sites and a walk around them gives visitors a clear view of the city’s interior and coastline. Being a city on the Mediterranean coast, there is plenty of luxury- self- catering- villas -and -apartments most of which are close enough to the busy old town yet quiet and peaceful. These villas provide excellent self catering services which allows for a personalized holiday experience without spending a fortune.

Cavtat-villas are very popular because of their privacy for families and a good variety in the number of bedrooms. They are very convenient and resourceful for large group of people taking a holiday together. The facilities vary from well equipped kitchens, swimming pools, car rental services and tour guides.

                                                    Night view of Dubrovnix

In Dubrovnik, there is plenty to see and do. There are old museums and buildings in Old town, with a range of churches and renaissance palaces. Shops and restaurants line up in almost every corner with traditional and international cuisine.

In the city there is a cable car service that moves over the city walls as high as 405 metres above. This provides a good overview of the beaches, the buildings, the sea and even the distant Elafiti Islands at the horizon.

The Franciscan monastery and museum has a variety of relics, paintings, books and sculptures. The most commonly visited places are: Rector’s palace, Sponza palace, and Dominican palace, pile gate, site archives, the Onofrio archives, the Cathedral of assumption treasury, Minceta tower and the old town. With the sea close by, cruises are a common activity that can be organized by local tourist offices.

                                          Croatian Holiday Resort of Cavtat

Meals along the Dalmatian coast are majorly influenced by the Italian culture. Most restaurants offer seafood dishes caught off shore. Look for sea bass, grouper, scorpion fish, pilchards, mackerel, squid and sea bream. Fish is usually grilled with local olive oil, garlic and lemon.

Meat isn’t forgotten either. Thin slices of smoked Dalmatian ham are often on the appetizer list. Lamb is popular either boiled or baked. Dalmatian pasticada is a meat Dubrovnik’s’ most famous dessert is Crème caramel pudding, known as Dubrovački Rozata, and can be found in most good restaurants. With over 60 restaurants, one is spoilt for choice in cuisine which also includes French, Mexican, Chinese and Croatian.

It is overall a good location for a tropical weather holiday rental location for to enjoy with family friends and even colleagues. You may get a chance to catch the famous Game of thrones cast shooting on sight as you go about your vacation activities.

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A Self-Catering Sojourn in Lagos Portugal

A Self-Catering Sojourn in Lagos Portugal

A self-catering sojourn in Lagos Portugal

                                                                                       Sea view in Lagos

Middlesboro, Nuneaton, Brighton this winter of year what have they in common “winter”.
You have options, we suggest you spend 6 weeks before Christmas in Lagos Portugal. Many apartments in complexes like Patio Do Convento available to rent at very reasonable rates. The Marina apartments are another tremendous holiday rental location. At one end of the Avenida in Lagos there are a few excellent locations for self-catering accommodation . Near the ‘Ponta da Bandeira’ Fort and ‘Potato beach’ (Praia da Batata) .
The longer you stay the better the rates as the owners have less final cleanings. Their cost savings can be passed on to tenant.

Lagso Marina
                                                                                        View of Lagos Marina

Ok weather is not perfect but it will be 5 degrees warmer than England or Ireland. Trust us that a lot this time of year. As I write another major storm is heading over England and Ireland from the Atlantic They now are giving them name making them real almost. Practically the difference is no heating bills in Lagos, far move sunshine far more opportunities to get out for walks etc.
You don’t have to go self-catering in Lagos. You can always try for a nice holiday rental in Alvor Carvoeiro or AlbufeiraTo stay with the practicalities of being here term you need among other things a solicitor, maybe an accountant , if you have a car a good mechanic. In a Short term holiday rental hopefully you wont need any of the latter. But you will need certain profession services as well. You will a doctor for instances, which will not be an issue. Its essential you have your European E111 card. Get that sorted be you travel. If you Lagos you can register with the local Helath Service and see a GP for €5. Or call to the Private Hospital your owner should be able to supply all that information for you.

One organisation worth joining is Afpop basical an expat association based in Portugal. afpop specialises in providing a comprehensive range of information services and support to foreign residents and visitors to Portugal. We can assist in keeping you up-to-date with new and existing legislation, along with social events for all of our members.

Lagos Boats
Lagos Boats at anchor

You might or might not need a bank. We would recommend Banif a very friend efficient bank.
For the ladies there are excellent hair salons Raul Milhano and his staff  come highly recommended. Then for the gents the £5 hair by Paula Cruz Cabelelreiro , Rua José Ventura Neto Cabrita 8600-385 Lagos you might have to wait your turn but the hair cut itself will be quick. Paula includes a wash for the €5.00
To get there keep an eye on the winter sales from Ryanair, Monach, Easyjet and AerLingus. The first three fly from airports like London, Birmingham, East Midlands, Manchester and Liverpool all year round. Ryanair and Aer Lingus fly from Dublin.

Barcelona a Jewel in The Spanish Crown

Barcelona a Jewel in The Spanish Crown

Barcelona the diverse capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, the city is defined by peculiar art and architecture, ingenious food and vivacious street life. Barcelona is one of the most beautiful and exciting citing cities in the world and home Barca, Barcelona’s world famous football club

Nou Camp
 Barca    Nou Camp  Stadium

Barcelona is lively during both the night and day and it has a unique, exciting atmosphere, which provides the tourist with a truly unforgettable experience.

There are major art exhibitions, that go on throughout the year and concerts and shows of different kinds happening all the time.

The city of Barcelona enjoys the almost perfect climate making it an ideal place to be at anytime of the year. The best way to get around is using the metro, if you are planning to lots of walking you will need to use the City metro at some stage. The stations are all over the city and lines are distinguishable by both numbers and colour.

  Barcelona Cathedral

The famous attractions in Barcelona are buildings designed by the same person Antoni Gaudi, there is the Picasso Museum which is used to document the work of the famous artist, the cathedral amongst other attractions which you can’t miss to see.  Barcelona has great self-catering accommodation centrally located near the  Picasso Museum.  We have come across a beautiful short term rental apartment near Placa Catalunya.

Barcelona has two parks which are perfect for visiting when you want to get away from the hustles and bustles of the city.  After a walk in the park you can visit restaurant and have a tapas meal which is Spanish delicacy where food is served in small portions. Then retire  to the comfort and security of a large short term rental or holiday rental apartment

Casa Batlo Barcelona
Casa Batlo Barcelona

The locals in Barcelona are passionate a particular football team which is FC Barcelona simply known as Barca. Football legends who have played here incl ude Argentina’s Diego Maradonna.

The city of Barcelona is located on the water, if the weather is good visit the beach, the city has its own port too where you will find a famous shopping center.

For the football lovers I think this is one of the great places you would love explore.  Because footballers bring money and luxury villas and luxury self-catering can be found in the Barcelona area.  If want to list your Barcelona property or any other property for free go to



Navarra is a province in northern Spain that borders the Basque country. Pamplona is the capital and only city, while the rest are small Spanish villages and towns. The residents widely speak Spanish although Basque is the official language.

Pamplona , Navarra
                                    Pamplona capital of the Spanish Navarra Region

In Navarra, various regions have their own unique features. The Pyrenees in the north has a beautiful, calm and quiet mountain range with exquisite landscapes, La Riviera in the south is plain fertile land with the Ebro River running through and La Zona Media has extensive canyons like Hoces de Lumbier and Arbayun.
Having been ranked as Spain’s top in living standards, Navarra makes a perfect place for a holiday lettings and rentals accommodation. Visiting the town would be a fulfilling experience with the plenty of self catering apartments available. The fairly priced amenities with good views of the city that has been called Green Spain give you a chance to enjoy either a long or brief holiday all the same. The vineyards are extensive and the waterfalls are surreal.

View of the countryside in the Navarra Region

Getting to Navarra could be through flights to Noain, by bus, or by train. A train ride from Madrid Alocha for instance takes four and a half hours while the same from Barcelona lasts six hours; it depends on how quick you need to get there. Renting a car is more personal with plenty of time to see the beauty and the sights.
A holiday in Navarra will get you to experience Spanish traditional festivals and cuisine. The most renowned festival is the ‘running of the bulls’ festival in San fermin every July in the city of Pamplona

Its picturesque beautiful towns like Artajona full of medieval walls, Estella, Olite, formerly seat of Navarre’s kings, Tudela and Roncesvalles always a worthwhile visit.
Navarrese Carnivals with their typically unique Zanpantzarrak.

                                         Plaza del Castillo Pamplona

The town of Olite was once home to the kings of Navarra and is now the wine making capital; the vineyards are beautiful with a combination of rivers and mountain ranges. Top wine makers like Julian Chivite, Guelbenzu, Castillo de Monjardin and Bodegas Ochoa all of whom make quality cabernet, merlot and tempranillo. During a stay in Navarra, a wine tour will be of great help in expanding your wine pallet and at the same time enjoy the cuisine. Fresh from the pasture and green land, the food if full of natural spices and herbs full of flavor. The markets are filled with natural fresh produce which you can prepare in your own self catering suite in your preference.

University of Navarra
The University of Navarra

Navarre is a great holiday rental destination with plenty of culture, history, cuisine and rich wine. Take a look at plan book your holiday rental and enjoy a pleasant holiday.