The Sunshine Cafe is tucked away in the pretty Cornish coastal town of Penryn. I went just before the Summer holidays, as like much of Cornwall it can get a bit busy there, and with it being quite a small town there is very limited parking. I managed to go on an unusually quiet day and it was so peaceful and charming.
The Sunshine Cafe has been on my radar for a couple of years now, I have had friends recommend it to me & I have also been following them on social media, drooling over all their delicious vegan food and drinks. It did not disappoint, in fact it was a lovely place to stop for a bite to eat. The café space it bright, calm and a very friendly place, I loved the decor and how everything on the menu is plant based with an emphasis on using good local produce. I could have sat in there all day, I felt very relaxed. The food was delicious, I had the vegan beans & sausage on sourdough with a side of sweet potato fritters and an Almond Milk Matcha. I didn’t have room for a sweet treat, but I did spy quite a few options like a vegan croissant, brownies, and carrot cake. If you’re in Penryn, I highly recommend it even if you are not plant based, the food is incredible.
They also have a wonderful yoga space attached to the cafe they offer so many classes throughout the day, from pilates to yoga and guided meditation. I need to go back, so I can attend one of the vinyasa or pilates classes.
Sunshine Cafe and Yoga, Hill Head, Harbour Village, Penryn, TR10 8JU
This was our first visit back to Amsterdam since 2019, in fact it was my first time travelling outside the UK since all the madness of 2020. It was so nice to be in an airport, on a plane and back to exploring one of my favourite places in the world. Amsterdam is my happy place, I feel so calm when I am there. We had never visited in March before, I did miss the tree’s being lush and green, but Amsterdam is pretty no matter the time of year, or the weather.
It is safe to say it we picked the coldest week, it snowed for 2 days, and we had temperatures as low as -4. I just used it as an excuse to stop for more warm drinks and yummy pastries. My friends opened up a Vegan café 2 years ago, and to say I was excited to visit was an understatement. The café is called Margo’s (named after Margo, the owner) and is 100% Vegan. Margo bakes everything each morning, all the pastries, bread and cookies, she is so talented. You have to pop by if you are ever in Amsterdam, even if you are not Vegan, the food is delicious, the BEST croissants, and cakes you will ever try. After 11.30 they have fresh sandwiches and toasties plus coffee, tea and matcha all day long. I am so proud of them and what they have achieved, the café is a delight, and they have built such a lovely, friendly community.
If you have read any of my other Amsterdam Diaries over the years, you will know that I just enjoy exploring, finding new areas to walk in and take photos of all the beautiful buildings and streets. Amsterdam is simply the most extraordinary place to visit, it is charming, pretty, and so easy to explore on foot. Despite the snow and cold temperatures, we were lucky that March was a quiet time of year to visit.
I have eaten at The Vegan Junk Food Bar a few times and always enjoyed it, I had never been to the Reguliersdwarsstraat location and I think this might be my new favourite. I had the kebab and John had the bacon, cheeseburger and chips, delicious, highly recommend. Good-sized portions, friendly staff and very reasonable price.
Spotting the flower bikes that are dotted throughout the city is a fun thing to do, there are not as many as they used to be. They are created by a Dutch man called Warren who started by decorating his wife’s bike, you can see some of his work on his Instagram & his story is inspiring and sad in equal measure.
I have already written a post about where we stayed this time, so if you want to read that, just click here. We usually stay at the same hotel, but decided to try somewhere that has been on my bucket list for a while, it was a treat. I have a few more photos to share, as well as some café and restaurant recommendations, so keep can eye out for that post.
If you have visited Amsterdam, let me know what you love about this City.
I have been to Amsterdam countless times over the years, if you know me you know that it is joint number one (with Berlin) as my favourite cities to visit. Amsterdam has such a special place in my heart. Before Brexit, we were all set to move there but as a result of leaving the single market we would not be able to take our business with us, so sadly a move is off the table for us. Instead we try to visit as often as possible, and we recently came back from a visit in March (it was FREEZING)
Until my most recent visit, we have always stayed in the same hotel (creature of habit) we liked being in a quieter area of Amsterdam, a little off the beaten track, out by the Tropenmuseum at The Manor Hotel. Surrounded by parks, nature and fewer tourists. We (still) love it out there, it’s relaxed and leafy it has nice restaurants, good travel links, and it is a beautiful walk (if you wanted to walk) into the more central areas.
Over the years, we have popped into The Hoxton Hotel for drinks and dinner (or just a cheeky wee). I always wondered what it would be like to stay there, right on the Herengracht Canal, in the centre of the 9 streets. I have heard so many people rave about this hotel and The Hoxton Hotels in general.
So I bit the bullet, and booked 5 nights (for early March). I was so looking forward to it, after my husband had lost a close family member over Christmas, we really needed a holiday. That was not the case, sadly my dad passed away suddenly 2 weeks before we were set to go away. I was torn between going and staying home. Knowing I wouldnt get a refund, and it was a pricey trip, (my dad would have been annoyed at me loosing all that money). I decided to go and try to make of it what I could.
We stayed for 5 nights in a Cosy Canal View Room on the 2nd floor, the room was small but had everything you might need. Lovely big window overlooking the Herengracht Canal, this view was worth every penny, so beautiful, and we loved seeing and hearing all the goings on out there. We have never had such a grand view before, and it really made me very happy to sit in bed with a cuppa and look out the window.
The bed was very big, comfy and with it being -5 degrees one day & snowing it was very warm too! We slept very well, even though I was pretty stressed and emotional. There is a desk in the corner and a desk chair, I used this space as a vanity. You get tea & coffee in the room, as well as daily bottles of water & milk (if you require it). The mugs in the rooms at The Hoxton are fab, very big, and perfect if, like me, you enjoy a nice cup of tea! There is also a fridge, we kept our Almond milk in there & some bits & bobs.
The bathroom had a rainfall shower and lovely products, shampoo, conditioner and body wash. I loved the white subway style tiles in the bathroom, it was a cool looking small bathroom. The wardrobe big enough for us & the huge drawers under the bed were great for our stuff too, for a small room there was plenty of storage.
The bar, and lobby is very, very busy at all times. We found that getting a seat was like a game of cat & mouse, it is a popular place for people to work out of (like a co working space). People would arrive when I left the hotel at 9ish, and they were still there when I came back in the late afternoon. It’s great that you’re able to do that, but if you want to use this space as a hotel guest, it is challenging. On the odd occasion we managed to get a seat, the light bites bar menu was great, coffee very good and the cocktails were even better. There is a great atmosphere here in the evening, and they have lots of live music in the evening.
So all in all, The Hoxton was a treat, I booked it in January and my wonderful Dad passed away in February, so I didn’t have the relaxing trip I had envisioned, but I am glad I went. I want to go back, so I can really appreciate it, with a calmer mind and more energy.
If you want to stay here, I would say sign up to their newsletter, or keep an eye out on Expedia for deals, otherwise (in my opinion) it is on the pricey side. The location is amazing if you want to be in the thick of it, in a nice area of Amsterdam, with shopping, restaurants and the hustle and bustle on your doorstep. Everything in Amsterdam is pretty much within walking distance, and what I love most about this city is that it is incredibly beautiful no matter what time of year you visit. Walking everywhere is the best thing to do, the way to discover cafés, bars, and shops tucked away.
There is also a Old school B&W photo booth in the hotel, we didn’t use it this visit as there was a constant queue of about 20 teenagers waiting to use it. We took these photos 3 years ago in 2019.
I will do another post about all the places we ate & cafés we visited. I just wanted to do a post about staying here, at The Hoxton, as it was such a small dream of mine, even if the circumstances were emotional.
Manchester was home for me for over 5 years, and it is where my husband went to University and where we got married. We still have so much love for this city and visit as often as we can (our hairdresser is still based here!). So a couple of times a year we head up from Cornwall for a bit of city life and a decent haircut. I always take so many photos and thought I would start sharing them in a bit of a round up post. Manchester has changed so much over the past 20+ years, with lots of great new places popping up, but also some of that Northern grit and magic is being lost.
It is crazy to see the change in the Manchester skyline, so many new glass tower blocks in between the historical red brick buildings. The old and the new side by side. I also love just how much street art there is, if you look for it. Beautiful murals and graffiti dotted about all over the city. The Manchester Bee has become such a positive symbol, one of hope and community. Manchester is a city that wears its heart on its sleeve, very friendly and full of energy.
Manchester has become a dream destination for foodies, you are spoilt for choice in terms of variety. I am vegan, and you are never short of options, I have always wanted to go to the curry night at The Deaf Institute and OMG it was epic. The entire menu was Vegan friendly, it was very reasonable in price and the food was all cooked fresh to order. What can be better than a curry and a cold pint of beer. If you get the chance to visit, you must eat here!
The Northern Quarter is still a very cool place to eat, drink and shop, although a few places have gone now, there are always new spots popping up (some good some are a little meh). Fred Aldous has always been one of my favourite places to shop for stationery, cards and art supplies, it moved locations a few years ago now, but it is still the same vibe. Oh & it even has a black and white old style photo machine. So much fun and a sweet way to remember your trip.
Now, I am not sure if I should let you all in on my number one place to get food, it is the best kept secret. What, The Pitta in tucked away on the edge of the Northern Quarter, and it serves up the most incredible ALL Vegan Doner Kebabs. They’re HUGE, packed full of salad, doner meat and chips. It will fill you up for days, they have expanded their menu to include a Vegan Chicken Burger, Falafel Wrap and Gyros too. Oh and their soft serve ice cream is hard to resist. I always go here when I am in Manchester, such a treat, and my non-vegan friends always request to go here too! Oh & it is dog friendly too, always a bonus.
We always stay at Whitworth Locke, it is a great central location, right by Canal Street, it is not too far from where we used to live. It is a gorgeous space, each room is like a mini apartment, you get a comfy seating area, dining area a lovely fully equipped kitchen. I have stayed in a variety of their rooms, and they’re all so stylish and comfortable. It has become a home from home for us.
When you’re staying somewhere regularly for quite a few days at a time, it is nice to have space and the facilities in your room to cook and relax.
The lobby, which is a huge glass atrium full of plants, has a really charming bar, coffee shop, restaurant, and lots of space to sit and relax, it is very friendly. The rooms are very reasonably priced, I have found it as little as £85 a night, which for the location and the quality of the hotel is remarkable.
I have also stayed at the Locke hotel in Edinburgh, which was just as cool and stylish, they have them all over Europe now, so if you’re heading away anywhere, check to see if there is one in your destination.
I love exploring Manchester, there is always something new to see, I used to work around Spinningfields and in the years since I left it has become a great area for restaurants. The Ivy has opened up there and there is quite often a pop-up on the green there, and recently they had an outdoor cinema and lawn club bar.
We stumbled upon El Capo in the Northern Quarter, we use to regularly go to Kosmonaut but decided to try somewhere new (very daring), we do love The Whiskey Bar too, but this new Tequila Bar is pretty EPIC. The decor is so cool, the tequila selection is impressive, and they serve delicious Mexican food. It gets very busy, but that adds to the atmosphere.
If you like an independent micro brewery, then I highly recommend Fierce Beer, they’re a brewery based in Aberdeen and have bars in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and one in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. They have a fantastic selection of beers, if you like fruity beer, larger, IPA’s or even stout they have a beer for you. They offer vegan and gluten free options, which is quite unusual but very welcomed. The staff are knowledgable, friendly and the bar has a great atmosphere. Always nice to support a small brewery.
Manchester is also a great place to get good coffee, or in my case Matcha. Fig & Sparrow is always our first port of call when we arrive, it is in The Northern Quarter, they have a delicious selection of cakes, a seasonal lunch and breakfast menu. You can sit inside and out, we love the friendly welcome and the relaxed vibe.
Since we lived in Manchester, Ancoats, Green Quarter has changed so much, so many of the Mills and Warehouses have been developed, and it has become the place to live. I can see why, so many cafés, restaurants, and it has a community vibe. We came across The Flat Baker (tucked up a side street), sadly it was closed on the day we were there. I have since learned that it is owned by a couple who started baking during lockdown and recently opened their first premises. It looks so cute, and their Brazilian inspired pastries and bakes look irresistible. Next time I am in Manchester, I will be sampling a few of their treats!
Takk is also one of our go-to café stops, we used to always go to the one on Tibb Street, but we quite like their University Green one, it is bright, and you always get a seat. We like to sit in the window and watch the world go by, it looks out on to a busy square and its a nice space to take some time out. They serve THE best matcha latte.
So thats my little Manchester Diary for you, it is one of my favourite cities, I have lived there, got married there, my northern husband did his degree and Masters there, and It’s where I set up my own business. It is a place that always makes me feel creative, excited and reenergises my heart. It is a city with lots of memories, and we love popping up every 6 months or so to make new memories and just soak in all the energy. Cornwall, where we live now, is quiet and relaxing, every so often you just need an injection of city life to keep your soul alive. Where is your favourite city in the UK to visit? Let me know where & why.