The Slide – ArcelorMittal Orbit

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been terrified of heights. My hands will shake, and I will break out in a cold sweat at the thought of being high up. I remember having nightmares for months as a child before I moved to New York, absolutely terrified at the thought of all those skyscrapers.

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Up until two weeks ago, though, I was convinced that it was my biggest fear in life, and for the first time in a long time, I learned something new about myself.

The best thing about blogging has been the opportunity to try things I never would have imagined myself doing – and absolutely loving it (like my zipwire experience in Wales, or foraging). So when the team at AttractionTix asked if I’d like to try the longest, fastest slide in the world, I said yes in a heartbeat.

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I hadn’t really realised how tall the ArcelorMittal Orbit structure was, until I got there. And it was really only when I got to the top, and donned my helmet and knee pads, that I realised how fast I would be going – and my blood ran cold. I was absolutely terrified, but when asked if I was absolutely sure I wanted to go through with it, I knew that there was only one fear greater than what I was going through. The fear of being held back, or not doing something that I might regret, was at that moment far, far greater than my fear of 114 metre drop.

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So I got into a little black sack, and screamed my head off – and loved every second of it. Every twist and turn and drop was unexpected, scary, and exciting – and by the time I got off (in full view of a very amused group – I was the loudest screamer by far) the adrenaline was pumping through me.

We then went back up for some prosecco, and to enjoy the incredible view, and I felt amazing.

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To ride the slide, you have to book in advance (I think it’s booked up for the next couple of months) – and it costs £15, so it’s probably not something you’ll be doing every time you pop to Westfield. The views are fantastic, though, so I’d definitely recommend doing it at least once!

Have you ever been on the slide? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

Will to Win, Hyde Park

As we slide into September, I’m still trying to cling onto those summer days – I’m not quite ready for Autumn just yet!

Will to Win, Hyde ParkWill to Win, Hyde ParkWill to Win, Hyde Park

Earlier this year I was invited to spend the afternoon at Will to Win in Hyde Park. I feel like it’s always so easy to stay in your own little bubble in London, so it was lovely to spend some time in Hyde Park, where I haven’t really been since I moved back to the UK.

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The Will to Win centre in Hyde Park has so many facilities, most of which are open year-round – on our trip, we did some lawn bowling, as well as have a go on the 9-hole putting course (which I’m terrible at). Most people head down for the tennis, as they have two mini tennis courts and six hard courts, set in an absolutely stunning location, with a view of The Shard, too!

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Even if golf or tennis isn’t really your thing, the cafe has a great selection of cheeses and some Sipsmith cocktails, too – I was particularly taken with the London Cup (which tastes just like Pimm’s). I also really liked the G&T ice cream, too, which was really unusual.

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It was such a wonderful way to spend the afternoon – get yourself down there before the summer finally ends!

Have you ever played tennis in Hyde Park? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

clueQuest’s Revenge of the Sheep Review & Giveaway!

There’s always something going on in London – whether it’s a new restaurant opening, or an art exhibition – it’s what makes it so great to live here.

clueQuest10clueQuest - Islandbell ReviewAnd yet I’m often stumped for things to do that don’t just revolve around eating out, or going for a drink.

Which is why I absolutely love the Escape Room trend going on at the moment. I’ve tried a couple in London now, and always have such a blast – as a massive fan of mystery/thriller films, the thought of having to get myself out of a room by following clues is more than a little exciting.

clueQuest - Islandbell ReviewclueQuest - Islandbell ReviewSo I was super happy when the team at clueQuest got in touch to say they had a top secret mission for me at their Kings Cross HQ – and even more excited when I found out that my teammates/fellow agents were Katy, Jasiminne, Natasha, Emma and Amanda.

clueQuest - Islandbell ReviewFor those of you who don’t know what an escape room experience entails, it involves being shut in a mysterious room for an hour – and having to make your way out before the clock ends by figuring out the clues. No phones, no 50/50 – just yourself (and your teammates, of course!)

DSC06903clueQuest1clueQuest - Islandbell ReviewNow I don’t want to give too much away (that will totally spoil the fun!) but the challenge we did, The Revenge of the Sheep, revolves around you working to save the world from the evil Professor Blacksheep and his SheepMutator. It’s by far the most high-tech escape room I’ve done so far, and is such a fun way to spend an evening!

It’s also a great way to break the ice with people you don’t know particularly well – you can be sure there won’t be any awkward silences when you’re racing against the clock. I’d met most of the girls from events before, but you learn a lot about a person when you’re stuck in a room with them for an hour (like the fact that Jasiminne eats Heinz soup for breakfast!)

clueQuest - Islandbell ReviewIntrigued? The lovely folks over at clueQuest are offering one UK reader the chance to take a team to try it out!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you ever tried an escape room experience? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

*This post was created in collaboration with clueQuest – all views my own!

A Weekend in Wales

When the team at Visit Wales invited me to spend a weekend in Bangor, I was very excited – but I don’t think I could have pictured just how amazing it was all going to be.

Menai BridgeMenai BridgeMy holidays are usually based around food, beaches, museums, and architecture – I’ve never really gone on an adventure holiday before, and really wasn’t sure what to expect. In the original brief, I was going to be spending a weekend in Bangor, going on a high-speed RIB ride around the Menai Strait – and it was only as an afterthought that an afternoon on a zipline course was added, too.

Menai Strait RIB RideMenai Strait RIB RideMenai Strait RIB RideMenai Strait RIB RideI hadn’t really appreciated how stunning this part of the world is. Dramatic, snow capped scenery surrounded us on the RIB ride – a high-speed journey that had our hearts racing.

I really enjoyed the ride, which combined a little bit of local history and sightseeing along with some manoeuvres that had me digging my nails into the seat! I managed to snag the very front of the boat for the last few minutes, and was fully convinced that I was going to fly out of the boat at any moment.

Menai Strait RIB RideMenai Strait RIB RideMenai Strait RIB RideAfter a windy trip we headed for a bite to eat at Ye Olde Bulls Head Inn in Beaumaris, where we tried some of the amazing locally sourced seafood.

Menai Strait RIB RideMenai Strait RIB RideMenai Strait RIB RideIt was only over dinner that I looked at the itinerary for the next day – and my heart almost stopped.

I was expecting something along the lines of what I’d experienced a few months before at Go Ape. What I was not expecting was that Penrhyn Quarry is home to Zip World, the longest zipline in Europe. Not only that, but I would be five hundred feet in the air, at 100 miles per hour. As someone who is terrified of heights, the thought of what I had just signed myself up for filled me with total, utter fear.

Zip World UK, WalesZip World UK, WalesIt was only with a lot of encouragement from my boyfriend that I even managed to get there at all, I was so petrified. Even once I arrived, I remained unconvinced – I burst into tears around three times just at the thought!

First up was the Little Zipper (which is still the fifth biggest zip line in Europe!) I was so, so scared, but the staff at Zip World were so professional, and really reassuring, that once I got going I was able to enjoy zipping over the trees, and I felt like I was flying.

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The biggest challenge, though, was the Big Zipper – even the drive up to the top of the quarry was making me feel dizzy, and once I got up to the top I wasn’t sure I would be able to do it.

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Despite all the tears, and all of the fear, I did it! It was definitely one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and I still can’t quite believe I managed it.

I keep finding myself watching the video of me doing it over and over again – it is something I will never forget.

Zip World UK, WalesZip World UK, WalesI had an absolutely amazing weekend in Wales, and had such an incredible time! It was truly unforgettable, and I can’t wait to go back.

I was invited to Wales, and to try the zip line and RIB ride for the purposes of review – all opinions are fully my own!

Kyoto

Kyoto wasn’t quite what I had expected it to be.

Mt Fuji, JapanAdmittedly, part of it had to do with the fact that, right after new year, everything is closed in Japan for a few days. We were just unlucky.

The other part had to do with the fact that I had unrealistic expectations, and the reality didn’t quite live up to them. As the former capital of Japan, I’d grown up hearing about all the ancient temples and shrines there, and how it was so steeped in ancient culture and architecture. That’s definitely still true, there are temples and shrines absolutely everywhere.

Gion, Kyoto, JapanThat’s not, however, quite what you see when you come out of the station, and on the whole Kyoto isn’t the most beautiful city I’ve been to. The unfortunate timing of our trip also meant that all the restaurants that were recommended to us – all fifteen – were closed. So we probably didn’t experience the best food that Kyoto had to offer, either.

Looking back on our trip, we did have a lovely time there, despite our initial frustrations. For one thing, it’s a fantastic city to cycle in. You’re allowed to cycle on the pavements, which are large enough for several bikes, and the drivers there really respect cyclists, so you feel safe on the road, too. It was really fun going from temple to temple, and exploring the city on two wheels (thanks, AirBnB rental!)

We also saw some stunning sights – I’ve listed some of my favourites below.

Gion

Gion, Kyoto, JapanGion, Kyoto, JapanWe headed toward Gion to see the famous Yasaka Shrine, and check out the nightlife. Gion is the famous geisha district, so you’ll find a lot of tourists there, but there’s lots to see and do – you can get some great coffee around there, too.

Gion, Kyoto, JapanKinkakuji 

Kinkaku-Ji, Kyoto, JapanKinkakuji temple was one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve seen in the entire world – it just looked like something out of a painting. It was stunning. I was in total awe, and the surrounding gardens were also idyllic.

Kinkaku-Ji, Kyoto, JapanKinkaku-Ji, Kyoto, JapanKinkaku-Ji, Kyoto, JapanA top tip for tourists – if you don’t want sleep deprived, hungry and grumpy half-Japanese ladies to scream and chase after you in near hysterics, it’s best to avoid dumping several unwanted receipts from your bag in front of something as beautiful as this. Some people are just unbelievable. Unfortunately the tourists in question sheepishly ran away, meaning I had to carry around other people’s trash for a while. I also shot daggers at the people in question, so I hope I ruined their tour by being totally insane. However, I still have no remorse about my behaviour that day. NO REGRETS.

Kinkaku-Ji, Kyoto, JapanLuckily, matcha tea and a traditional Japanese sweet was the perfect way to blow off all that pent up, trash-related anger – it was really peaceful and tranquil in the shade.

Kinkaku-Ji, Kyoto, JapanFushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine is famous for its thousands of torii gates – thousands and thousands of bright orange structures, which line the mountain trails.

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Kyoto, JapanFushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Kyoto, JapanIt’s very impressive, and it has a great atmosphere – unsurprisingly, it’s a lot nicer the further up you go, as the other tourists drop off earlier once they’ve taken their selfies.

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Kyoto, JapanJust walk a little further up to get a better view (and you can take yours up there, too).

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Kyoto, JapanKyotoThere are also some great street food vendors just outside, too – I recommend the chicken skewers and the fish-shaped cakes with custard cream filling in particular. Absolutely delicious!

While our trip didn’t quite live up to my expectations, I did think there were some stunning sights to see in Kyoto.

Have you ever been to Kyoto? What did you think? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on  TwitterFacebook or Instagram!