Top 5 Delhi Sights Not To Miss


With temperatures in the UK dropping below freezing and staying there, what better time to start planning your sunshine get away? Delhi is the first part of the Golden Triangle and the cheapest place to fly in and out of. A room in a hotel can cost you as little as £15 a night so once you’ve arrived, the world is your oyster…

Here are my top 5 things not to miss:


  1. Old Delhi


Hire a rickshaw and head into the bustling heart of this crazy city; electrical wires zigzag across the streets at eye level; sequins and spices nestle alongside street hawkers, taxi drivers and fifteen lanes of traffic all moving in apparently random directions, beeping and swerving around rickshaw drivers as they head the wrong way around the traffic islands: Delhi is a feast for the senses – and a total culture shock.

Being one white face in a city of 18 million people you’d think you might disappear, but – like a penguin in a cage full of flamingos – you are instantly obvious and anyone who spots you will try to ‘befriend’ you in hope of giving you some sort of information which warrants a tip. Walking down the street is an adventure in itself; dodging the cracked pavements, random cows and the one thousand other people hurrying about their business. From the grinding poverty of makeshift homes on the side of the road to the holy Sadus, dressed in orange, crouched on street corners, or tuk tuk drivers sleeping on mats in the sunshine, what will strike you most about Delhi is its seemingly endless mass of teeming humanity.


After a day in the old town you can head to the Gates of India, a remnant of colonial British rule, set in a huge park which even by night is filled with families and vendors selling food: the perfect end to a perfect day.



  1. Qutb Minar


minaret detail

The minaret is made from plundered Hindu temples

Built in the city’s trademark red sandstone and started in 1193 by the first sultan this five story, 73 metre high tower is the crowning glory of a World Heritage Site which contains the oldest mosque in northern India.

An inscription over the eastern gate, left by the victorious army, boasts that it was constructed from the ruins of 27 Hindu temples. The highest tower in India, Qutb Minar commemorates the defeat of Dehli’s last Hindu ruler and an ancient iron pillar stands as silent testimony to almost 2,000 years of history in this – one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world.

The hassle factor in India is enormous. In the centre of Delhi it can be quite annoying and at its major attractions there is an endless supply of strange men attempting to offer you ‘tours’. Whilst it is wise to rebuff most of these don’t be too upset if you are approached by strange people who want to take your photo – it isn’t a con, (unlike everything else!), they really just think you look funny and want you to pose with their mum. Relax, be polite and enjoy your temporary celebrity status.


  1. Humanyan’s Tomb


Humayan's tomb

A family pose in the grounds of the tomb

Wild green parrots and screeching peacocks are the sole inhabitants of this lovingly restored garden tomb, the first ever to be built on the Indian sub-continent.

The inspiration for the Taj Mahal, unlike a lot of other historical buildings in India, the colours and patterns are bright and the tiles and dome still intact.

It can be reached via the Indian equivalent of the London Underground, which is swish and modern and surprisingly clean, (bins are non-existent elsewhere). However, a word of warning – as a women – even travelling with a man – avoid the packed tubes at rush hour as there are a few men who will try to take advantage of you; I had a nasty experience with a man who tried to rub himself against me, despite being with my husband at the time.


  1. The Red Fort


red fort

The fort is now a war museum

The ultimate symbol of Mughal power, this impressive octagonal fort was created by Shah Jahan after he moved his capital from Agra to Delhi in 1638. The man responsible for creating the Taj Mahal, it was originally built in white and red, but after a century of occupation by the British, who used it as a barracks, it lost its original colour, although this is gradually being corrected.

The downside of visiting sites in India, aside from the fact they are unlikely to contain much furniture or other remnants of the people who occupied it, is that they all smell of …wee. A combination of no public conveniences and a slightly different take on hygiene means you are never far from a stinky corner of an ancient monument. Nice.


  1. Jama Masjid


Dominating Old Delhi this giant mosque – The Friday Mosque – is the largest mosque in India. The courtyard can accommodate 25, 000 worshippers and climbing the 121 steps to the top of the minaret offers spectacular views across a city of 18 million people, – how far you can see depends on the air quality, which is amongst the lowest in the world.

What is wonderful is that all around you are Hindu, Buddhist and Jainist temples, Sikh Gurdwaras and Christian churches – Delhi is a place where all of India lives alongside one another, a true melting pot where animal and humans of all types huddle together. A visit to India will change your perspective – for the better.

8 Reasons to Visit Georgia


Where East meets West, this tiny Asian country is the furthest outpost of the European Union. Boasting the jaw dropping Causcasus Mountains, it’s known for it’s fine wines and hospitality.


Here’s 8 reasons why you should put Georgia on your travel itinerary.


1. For the simple life. 

Kutaisi MarketIMG_8847

Outside tumbledown houses, cows and pigs wander lazily across the highways, framed against a backdrop of snow capped mountains.

In Kutaisi wild horses reclaim the streets late at night, whilst packs of stray dogs race the cars. Almost every house you pass is selling something – set up on a small table outside – homegrown veg and honey or bottles of brown, pear-drop flavoured lemonade.

Wood must be bought to fuel the stove; chickens reared and live birds bought at market for eggs or Sunday lunch. Leather faced old ladies, dressed in head scarves and wearing traditional long black skirts, keep watch whilst the men, dressed in beanie hats and sturdy jackets against the worst of the Winter weather, advertise Ladas full of logs to passers by.

IMG_8858.JPG          Kutaisi Market


2. It’s now a budget destination

It may be nearly 3,000 miles away but Kutaisi is the latest town on the WizzAir flight path and at February half term it’s incredibly affordable – return flights cost around £85; if you’re travelling in the Summer expect to pay around £70 extra.

Apartments go from as little as £16 per night and a pizza is £2 each so Kutaisi is a cheap date. However, with 20% of the population living below the poverty line don’t expect all mod cons, unless you’re booking a fancy hotel.

Fabulously, interior decoration hasn’t changed much since the days of the USSR, so if you brave a private apartment you may find yourself waking up in a delicious remnant of a bygone Soviet era.

IMG_8782.JPG                    Step back in time to a bygone era…


3. Georgian Hospitality

Even looking slightly lost in Georgia will attract the attention of a helpful passer by. There is nothing to worry about: honesty is valued and unlike other countries in Asia, they aren’t on the take. In fact, they can boast of being the least corrupt country in the region and the only one with a free press.

Oddly enough, last year they were granted inclusion in the Schengen zone; despite being completely disconnected from any other EU country!

IMG_9032.JPGFebruary in the mountains


4. Natural beauty

IMG_9018                   Okatse Canyon

The white peaks of the Caucasus form the backdrop to almost every scene in Georgia. An hour’s travel in any direction will take you to into breathtaking countryside.

For some gentle exercise head to Okatse Canyons for stunning waterfalls and explore the Sataplia Nature Park to see the dinosaur footprints, taking time to admire the view from it’s stylish glass walkway overlooking the surrounding hills.

Get up early and you can also fit in a trip to Prometheus Cave (about 30 mins outside the town). These impressive caves stretch for 1.4 km, visitors can see 6 of the chambers, each large and simply dripping in stalactites and stalagmites.

IMG_8990.JPG                    Prometheus Caves


5. The Katskhi Pillar

The 130ft high home of a lone Stylite monk. He only leaves his home twice a week so supplies have to be winched up to him and he spent the first few months living in a fridge. When he wants to go home he has to spend 20 minutes climbing an extremely long, slightly dodgy looking ladder, and believes the height of the pillar brings him closer to God.

IMG_8884.JPG                        The Katshki Pillar


6. It’s A Soviet Museum

Dangle precariously over the mining town of Chiatura in a Soviet era cable car. These slightly terrifying remnants of a time gone by are unique and fabulous. Shut in the dark with only a metal grill for a window, it’s no wonder these contraptions were nicknamed ‘metal coffins’.

The town itself is unchanged since Stalin died; rows of concrete housing line the river and it’s easy to imagine yourself in another era. Not to be missed.

DSC02870.JPG                      Dangling in a metal coffin above Chiatura

DSC02877.JPG                      Chiatura is a mining town


7. Rock Houses

Hiding from Mongol attack in the 12th Century, Queen Tamar ordered this amazing cave labyrinth to be hewn from the rock. Boasting 6,000 apartments including a still inhabited monastery, this mountain hideaway is a fascinating place to explore.
IMG_8960.JPG                Hewn from the rock: Vardzia Cave Homes

IMG_9177.JPG               Snow in the Caucasus

8. It’s A Secret

With the advent of cheap flights it’s almost bound to catch on. The much needed injection of cash is sure to bring change and Georgia will lose some of it’s other-worldly charm.

Get there ahead of the hoards and experience this rustic haven whilst you still can.

IMG_9047.JPG                Georgia is working hard to attract tourists to it’s natural parks


Sharpie shells

My garden is full of shells. They are from all the beaches we have visited as a family and over the years they have started to take over – the pebbled area around the bench is now a beach – they have sneaked into the borders and adorn every pot plant. This evening, we decided to colour them with our Sharpies. 

I’m not sure what we’re going to do with them now (I’m guessing they’ll end up back in the garden!) but it was fun and a good way to keep bored children away from the gogglebox! So if you’ve been wondering what on earth you’re going to do with all yours, get scribbling!

10 Tips for Dealing with ‘Difficult’ Children

Any child can drive you nuts but a child who doesn’t seem to care about the rules or has no fear of adults can be a real test of the mettle. As a parent it’s hard because, well, you know you were frightened of your mum, so you’re expecting a bit of respect. As for teachers, we are prime examples of the sort of kids who meekly did as we were told, lapped up our education and then promptly regurgitated it to the next generation. It can come as a shock to realise there are kids out there who actually hate academic study, don’t have ambition and frankly find the entire situation so gawd awful they’d rather be down ‘t’ pit than stuck in a classroom full of people who don’t understand them.

So, after years of working it out on other people’s kids, here are my top tips for dealing with the ones who make you want to tear your hair out..

  1. Do not, under any circumstances, be tempted to raise your voice. This will have one of two effects, neither of which are desirable. The child will either (a). retreat completely and become unreachable, possibly for the rest of the day, or (b). lose it completely and you will spend the rest of the day trying to scrape them off the ceiling. That doesn’t mean you can’t be firm, just don’t shout.
  2. Be crystal clear about the consequences and stick to them. Don’t make threats you can’t keep because you may very well end up having to keep them – if you can’t think of anything then just remind them there will be a consequence, (even if you haven’t come up with anything yet), this is far better than threatening something in the heat of the moment and having to climb down. Consistency is key so if you change your mind about the consequence you will find it much harder to convince them you mean it next time.
  3. Allow ‘cool down’ time. Don’t ask for too much, too soon. Give the child time to cool off then you can have a reasonable conversation. Trying to get to this stage too early will be completely counter-productive and possibly reignite the entire situation.
  4. Don’t expect to intimidate your subject. Yes, you were scared of your mum and teachers and, yes, if they just appeared scary enough, or shouty enough, you immediately became a wobbly pile of jelly and apologised. A child with difficulties isn’t going to automatically respect you just because you are older, or louder so let go of this one, pronto.
  5. Give three clear warnings before you give a consequence. This is clear, consistent and, crucially, allows time for a pride climb down. For example, ‘I’m going to give you three warnings, this is your first warning. If you get three warnings you will have to (insert consequence here)’ Repeat this, in your calmest voice, exactly the same way each time. If you get the sneaky feeling you’re going to need to save that consequence for something worse,  you can even give a warning for the warning…for example, ‘If you carry on I will have to give you your second warning and you’ve only got 2 warnings left.’ I know, gazillions of warnings, but sometimes this is the best way and will actually get you what you want instead of creating a show down in which everyone loses.
  6. Be quick to spot the good stuff. It might be something everyone else can do right away but if you notice anything – a child who can’t usually say sorry uttering the words, a kid choosing to calmly take themselves to cool off or a shouter managing to keep it calm – compliment them.
  7. Be funny. This is by far the best way to be reprimanded so long as it is done in a way which includes the child, rather than being designed to encourage others to laugh at them, (I know this goes without saying but it’s important so I’ve said it anyway).
  8. Make it private. A quiet word in their conch-like is far better than broadcasting it to the world. The kind of children who are challenging you are also usually the children with the biggest self-esteem issues. Let them hang on to a modicum of pride and you’ll reap the rewards.
  9. Smile, smile, smile! Make your feelings very clear with your facial expressions, remember, kids who are likely to explode may well have some trouble reading body language so help them out by being obvious.
  10. Stay calm. Remember, you are the adult and no matter how rude or disrespectful they are being, they are just a child. You don’t have to ‘win’ to save face because you automatically hold all the trump cards.



Decoupaged cheese boxes

Things to keep the kids busy in Spring…part one. 

This is so simple and fun to do with great results. Ideal for children to store their precious little bits and bobs and you can even line it with felt if you feel like over achieving! 

You need this: 

Cheese box

Mod podge or PVA glue

Temporary glue (you can just use a glue stick)

Stack of old comics

Paint brush

1. Rip interesting words or pictures from the comics and use the temporary glue to stick them to the box. Allow them to overlap. 

2. Trim the edges with a pair of scissors then paint over with Mod Podge. Leave to dry and add two more coats. Finished! 

Anagram Fudge (for cryptic but yummy messages!)

Mix the letters up to send a secret (and yummy message). 


Fudge is so easy to make and I love to do little packages for my friends and family spelling out a secret message or word – a private joke or love message.

So here’s how…

1 can of condensed milk

1 edible food pen

150ml milk

450g Demerara sugar

115g butter

Greaseproof paper, non stick pan and a shallow dish

Throw everything in and heat!

1. Line a sandwich box or tin with greaseproof paper.

2. Fill a glass measuring jug with cold water and place in the fridge.

3. Throw everything in together and heat up, nice and slowly so it doesn’t burn. Make sure you stir the whole time or, non-stick pan or not, it’s going to burn!

3. It should be done in 10-15 minutes but the best way to find out is to grab your jug of cold water from the fridge, drop a spot of mixture into the jug and see if it turns into instantly to fudge. Whatever the outcome of your first try don’t be tempted to cook it for too long because the fudge will dry out very quickly.

3. Once that is done pour into your sandwich box or tin and leave to cool.

4. Once it is cool you can cut into slices and use your edible pen to add a cryptic message before bagging it and giving it to your loved one. Ta-da!

Aquarium Soap (the easy way!) 

Day 2 of easy homemade gifts, the perfect accompaniment to yesterday’s tea cup candles!

Homemade soap? Wellll….sort of. This is melt and pour soap so you’re not going to have to muck about getting the mixture right, you’re just providing the design and the scent, the rest is done for you. Perfect for a beautiful and simple gift!

You will need:

The basics

  • Melt and pour soap (cheaply bought from eBay) clear and opaque, (clear for the blue layer only)
  • Small plastic fish
  • Glitter (fine)
  • Fragrance
  • Blue soap colourant or food dye
  • Silicone loaf style mold
  • Isopropanol spray
  • A microwave
  • A bowl and spoon


  1. Cut half your opaque soap into cubes.

    Cut your soap into cubes

  2. Place into the microwave for around 3 minutes until all the soap has melted.

    Microwave for 3 minutes

  3. Now you can add your fragrance, colour and a little glitter. Stir in gently so you don’t get bubbles but not too slowly in case it starts to set!

    Add fragrance, colour and glitter!

  4. Pour slowly (to avoid bubbles) into your mold.

    Pour slowly

  5. Leave to cool for around three hours then spray with Isopropanol . This will stop colour leaking from one layer to another.

    Spray between layers to avoid colour leaching

  6. Once the first layer is hard you can add the other layers in the same way, just make sure you leave enough time for the layers to harden before adding the next one. You can now add your fish. 
  7. As you add the next layer (using the clear soap with blue colourant this time), just remember the fish are going to float so pour gently. Leave for three hours then add the final layer (the opaque soap with glitter in, as before).
  8. Once it has all set you are ready to remove it from the mold and slice into beautiful soap! Easy peasy and very rewarding!

Teacup Candles

Over the next week I’m going to show you some cheap ideas for gifts which are pretty easy and enjoyable to make.

First, tea cup candles, which are always beautiful and when put together with the soap I’m going to show you tomorrow look very vintage and good quality.

First, the basics you are going to need:

  • Wax (can be bought cheaply from eBay)
  • Tea cups (hit your local House Clearance shop, they’ll be very cheap – I got a full set of six with saucers for £3)

    Trawl the house clearance shop for pretty little bargains

  • Wicks
  • Wax dye or crayons (don’t use food dye, the oil and water won’t mix)
  • Hair dryer or embossing gun
  • Bowl, saucepan and wooden spoon

Basic equipment

  1. First, put your wax into a bowl.

    Fill your bowl with wax

  2. Fill the saucepan with boiling water and place the bowl of wax in the water.
  3. Heat until all the wax is melted. Be careful not to let it boil because you don’t want water in your wax!
  4. In the meantime, you can get your cups ready. Wait until the wax has nearly all melted then use your hairdryer or embossing gun to heat the cups. This is an important step as it reduces the chance of the wax sinking in the middle, (one of mine still sunk this time, it’s quite tricky to get it bang on, in this situation I usually cheat – wait until it has cooled and add a sneaky bit on top to cover the hole, shhhh!).

    Heat the cups to avoid sinking

  5. Place your wick into the cup and secure in place with two pencils to stop it moving around when you pour.

    Use pencils to keep your wick in place

  6. Now the wax is completely melted you can add your frangrance, make sure you use a good quality fragrance and lots of it or you won’t be able to smell it!

    Add lots of scent to make sure you can smell it!

  7. To add your colour either scrape off a little of your dye or use your crayon. Be sparing, these candles look best when the colours are delicate.

    Be sparing with colour for a delicate effect

  8. Once the scent and colour are stirred in you can pour into your cups. Pour slowly to avoid bubbles.

    Pour slowly to avoid bubbles

  9. Leave to cool. Ta-da! 

Southern Sardinia – Life is Beachy

The first thing to know if you’re planning to visit Southern Sardinia and see anything other than the nearest beach, (and maybe even if you’re not that fussed), is that you’re going to need a car. I can’t speak for the North but certainly in the South the pavements outside the towns have a nasty habit of disappearing, making walking anywhere a bit of a hairy experience.
Being more mobile also gives you chance to appreciate the fast changing landscape; to the North, the open farm land around Barumini; to the East, the mountains of the interior and, all around, the miles and miles of pristine coast line.

If seaside is what you are after, you won’t be disappointed. The best beaches rival the Carribean for breathtaking vistas and although the sea hasn’t had chance to warm up yet we still managed to get burnt in April.

Capo Carbonara is featured on many of Sardinia’s postcards. The sand is white, the sea clear blue and the low lying rocks are fun for a spot of clambering about. Sandstone, the local rock, has been blown by the coastal winds into weird sculptures which halo the bay.

To the West visit Chia, with lake and mountains to one side of the beach and the crystal waters of the med on the other – the sea and sky are impossibly blue and the sand actually sparkles.

Unfortunately in April there are no toilets open by the sea, as high season starts in May, so, if like us, you take advantage of the cheaper deals at Easter, you’ll have to make your peace with finding a spot for a wild wee in the surrounding bushes.

Another cool feature of both beaches and of the shallow waters heading West from the city is the large population of pale pink flamingos. Going about their business, these beautiful creatures are two-a-penny in the surrounding landscape.

Sardinia is home to the remains of an ancient and unique civilisation – the Nuraghe. Su Nuraxi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is definitely worth the trip. The Iron Age inhabitants of the island built a village complex in 1500 BC and, thanks to being buried under a hill for thousands of years, it’s still there. Using dry stone techniques the main tower initially stood at 22 metres, although these days it’s reduced to 15.

Still impressive and surrounded by four other smaller nuraghe, or beehive shaped towers, the homes were built at different stages of history up until 5 AD. The stone walls of the dwellings are often intact, (though the wooden rooves have naturally disappeared), there are also surviving fireplaces, cooking stones and home shrines for water worship. However, despite all this ancient wonder, my son’s favourite part was when the guide told us the surrounding countryside, covered in suspiciously unnatural looking but, (in actual fact), natural hillocks, was named, in Italian, ‘breast’ and quite literally, (as interpreted by the boy), ‘Boobyland’.

Once you’ve done that your ticket entitles you to visit any of the other ten sites in Barumini associated with the Nuraghe, including the Casa Zapasta where a Nuraghe village was found under the floor and which can now be visited via a series of glass floors and walk ways.

For history buffs there is also Nora, a site first settled by the Phonecians in 9 BC. The site was a perfect vantage and trading point was therefore settled by all sorts of other people too. The last lot and the ones to have left a lasting mark are those indefatigable Romans who built all the usual manner of mosaiced buildings, including baths, a teatro, a forum and various homes and shops. The English guide comes with the entry price and, if you time it right, once you’ve finished your tour group will be gathered up and taken up the Spanish look out tower next door.

All across the Southern coast towers were built to protect the Sardinians from raiding North African pirates who were wont to show up and steal their women and children. They appealed to the Spanish king, who initially meant to build 200 watchtowers but ran out of cash. In the end, 105 were built, of which only 65 remain – but 65 is still a lot. They appear on every horizon, finding their way into every picture.

In search of a boat ride around the caves on the coast of Capo Sperone we headed for the island of Sant A’ntioco. The winding mountain road was a bit slow and twisty but really worth it for the views. The interior of the island is very green in April, although having visited Sicily in August, I imagine it’s probably more yellow at the height of summer.

At last we arrived at the harbour of the eponymous capital. Unfortunately, this being April, there were no boats operating, despite all the enticing signs up and down the promenade. In Southern Sardinia nothing is running as it should until May, which is fabulous if you want the beaches to yourself and free parking but not so great if you are looking for things to entertain the kids or tourist attractions to be reliably open. The caves we had hoped to see at Grotte is Zuddas were also shut, apart from weekends and that was when we were going home. It was a pretty disappointing trip made worse by the fact we missed the beach we were heading for on the way home and ended up on a seaweedy coastline covered in bits of flotsam.

However, it wasn’t an entirely wasted trip, the mountains are beautiful and if you’d like to get out into them you could do worse than visit the WWF reservation at Oasi di Monte Acruso. It’s home to a range of indigenous species of plants and animals, not to mention supporting a very worthy cause.

Cagliari itself is the place to head to if you are looking for some thing a bit more lively or just some variation in your diet. There is only so much pizza one person can eat, especially when it’s as big as about three of your heads. Local cuisine is very fishy, as you might expect on an island, and features ravioli in large quantities.

Head to the back streets for quaint passages, beautifully crowded with pot plants and sun kissed yellow and orange buildings. There are a few sights to see, St Mary’s Basillica and the view from the Castello but really compared to the splendour of Italy they’re nothing to write home about.

The Devil’s Saddle rock which sits above Cagliari

Head to the harbour afterwards for gelato and watch the sail boats before scaling the rock known as Devil’s Saddle, thrown there, as legend has it by the Archangel Gabriel himself.

If you are looking for a spot of enforced relaxation Southern Sardinia is perfect. You simply can’t run out of perfect sands to gently cook yourself to bronzed perfection.

If you’re more of a culture-vulture you might be best to limit your stay to a few days in the South before heading up North to continue the adventure.

It is a place of wild, unspoiled beauty. The lack of tourist resorts and it’s natural gifts are refreshing and revitalising. Unwind, chill out and enjoy.



Tags: Sardinia, beach, vacation, relaxation, holiday, flights, Europe, Italy, island, Mediterranean
Categories: travel