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Jack Daniels Tour – Lynchburg, Tennessee

I just want to start the post off by saying that I am not a whiskey fan. I just don’t get it, really – the overpowering smell and taste really doesn’t do it for me. Having said that, I absolutely love knowing how things are made – so for someone that hates whiskey, I was probably more excited about this tour than I thought I would be.

Jack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, TennesseeJack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, TennesseeJack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, Tennessee

Lynchburg, Tennessee was a two-hour drive away from Nashville. It’s very much Smalltown, USA – it’s absolutely tiny, and the entire town revolves around the Jack Daniels distillery.

Jack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, Tennessee
Jack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, TennesseeJack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, Tennessee

It’s located in a really beautiful part of the countryside, so we had a little wander of the grounds and the local shops before we set off on the tour.

Jack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, TennesseeJack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, Tennessee

Our group was number 7, rather fitting really, as the No.7 is their signature whiskey (although no one knows why it’s that number in particular!)

Jack Daniels Fire Brigade, Jack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, TennesseeJack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, Tennessee

The tour was really enjoyable – it was great seeing how the barrels were made, and I liked seeing the process, and other touches like how they have their own fire brigade. How adorable is that truck?

We went on the tasting tour, which meant we could sample a few of their whiskies for an extra $10. It’s well worth doing, because who would want to do a whiskey tour without getting to drink some after?

Jack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, TennesseeJack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, Tennessee

Out of the three we tried, I like the Gentleman Jack, and the latest release – The Tennessee Fire. I was really excited to have brought back a bottle of the latter for my boyfriend as it wasn’t coming out in the UK for another couple of months!

After the tour, we went back into Lynchburg proper to have a wander and get some food.

Barrelhouse BBQ, Jack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, TennesseeBarrelhouse BBQ, Jack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, TennesseeBarrelhouse BBQ, Jack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, Tennessee

I had some of the most delicious pulled pork nachos I have EVER had in my life. Although I did have to ask for more jalapenos about three times – not because the service wasn’t excellent (man, I miss that Southern service) – but because I like A LOT of jalapenos.

Pulled Pork Nachos, Barrelhouse BBQ, Jack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, TennesseePulled Pork Nachos, Barrelhouse BBQ, Jack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, TennesseePulled Pork Nachos, Barrelhouse BBQ, Jack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, TennesseePulled Pork Nachos, Barrelhouse BBQ, Jack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, Tennessee

In the town, we did a little souvenir shopping – make sure you go to the official Jack Daniels store as their prices are a lot more reasonable than the smaller stores there (a mistake I made!)

They also had a Jack Daniels ice cream – a twist on the classic rum and raisin – which I got stuck into. It was really delicious, and perfect for the warm weather!

Jack Daniels Ice Cream, Jack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, TennesseeJack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, Tennessee

It was a really lovely way to end my fleeting visit to Tennessee, and a great experience that I would thoroughly recommend!

Jack Daniels Tour, Lynchburg, Tennessee

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

Bournemouth #Bloggerlodge

Despite having lived in London for three years now, I still don’t feel as though I’ve seen as much of the rest of the UK as I would like.

#Bloggerlodge, BournemouthCarousel, #Bloggerlodge, Bournemouth

So the invitation from Travelodge to stay at the seafront hotel in Bournemouth was a welcome one – and a month ago, my boyfriend and I jumped into the car and made our way to the seaside.

#Bloggerlodge, BournemouthCarousel, #Bloggerlodge, Bournemouth

By the time we got there it was pretty late – around 10pm, and there wasn’t much parking to be found at the hotel itself, so I’d recommend trying to get there early if possible. The staff were incredibly accommodating, however, and we were able to find parking just a street away, which was fantastic.

Gardens, #Bloggerlodge, Bournemouth#Bloggerlodge, Bournemouth

The original plan had been to go out for a few drinks, and do a little exploring, but we were absolutely knackered so made our way up to the room. It was clearly one of the nicest ones in the place (third floor, room 306, I believe), and after a night in one of the most comfiest beds I’ve ever slept in, we woke up to an amazing view of the sea.

#Bloggerlodge, Bournemouth#Bloggerlodge, Bournemouth#Bloggerlodge, BournemouthHot Doughnut, #Bloggerlodge, Bournemouth

Over a full English breakfast we got out our phones to plan our day. My boyfriend had come prepared, of course, with his swimming trunks, for a dip in the sea but luckily didn’t make good on his promise to swim while we were there!

Russell-Cotes Museum #Bloggerlodge, Bournemouth

After a walk across the seafront, the city centre and through the gardens (and a game of Dance Dance Revolution in the arcades, which I lost so IT NEVER HAPPENED) we went to the Russell-Cotes museum.

#Bloggerlodge, BournemouthRussell-Cotes Museum #Bloggerlodge, BournemouthRussell-Cotes Museum #Bloggerlodge, Bournemouth

The Russell-Cotes house and museum looks like its straight out of an episode of Poirot. There are some incredible views from inside of the sea, and I really liked how the museum had a pianist playing live. It was a really nice way to spend a few hours – especially as the Russell-Coteses have a massive collection of Japanese art.

Flowers, Frieda's Tearoom, #Bloggerlodge, BournemouthFrieda's Tearoom, #Bloggerlodge, Bournemouth

After a couple of hours we began to feel peckish, and so we made our way to Frieda’s Tearoom, which was a very sweet little place. I had a lovely butternut squash soup, followed by some macarons and a pot of tea.

Frieda's Tearoom, #Bloggerlodge, BournemouthMacarons and Tea, Frieda's Tearoom, #Bloggerlodge, Bournemouth

There were a few things we wanted to do, like going up the Bournemouth Balloon, or do the amazing zipline from the end of the pier to the beach, but the weather was really terrible, which meant a lot of things had shut.

So we want back into our warm and cosy room for a little while, and got ready for dinner at The Crab, which was walking distance from where we were staying.

Prosecco, The Crab at Bournemouth, #Bloggerlodge

All the food at The Crab was delicious, but the starters were really fantastic. My boyfriend had the soft shell crab tempura (always a winner) and I had scallops topped with Gruyere. It was sublime.

Soft Shell Crab Tempura, The Crab at Bournemouth, #BloggerlodgeLemon Scallops with Gruyere Cheese, The Crab at Bournemouth, #Bloggerlodge

I had the signature crab for my main, followed by a mousse and meringue dessert, both of which were also amazing.

Whole Crab, The Crab at Bournemouth, #BloggerlodgeStrawberry Mousse, The Crab at Bournemouth, #Bloggerlodge

We spent our next day driving to the New Forest, exploring the beautiful village of Beaulieu for a few hours. As we were in ancient woodlands, we put our new found foraging skills to the test, and recognised and picked a lot of amethyst deceivers, which went into another risotto later on that week.

We stopped off for fish and chips, and I had a stem ginger ice cream before we got back in the car and headed back to London. All in all it was such a lovely weekend – many thanks to Travelodge for such a comfortable and enjoyable stay!

Have you ever been to Bournemouth? What attractions are your favourite? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook or Instagram!

Graceland

We got up at the crack of dawn on our second day in Tennessee – we had places to be.

While we’re on the subject of early mornings – one travel tip for Tennessee – bring your aeropress, beans, coffee grinder or cafetiere. I couldn’t get a decent cup of coffee in the whole state, and we tried a lot of places while we were there. We were getting pretty desperate, and we are all massive coffee junkies.

Coffee troubles aside, we were all in pretty good spirits during the three hour drive from Nashville – we were headed for Memphis.

Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee
I say Memphis loosely, as we were really headed for Graceland, home of the King of Rock n Roll – Elvis Presley.

Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee
I’d always wanted to go to Graceland – my family are massive Elvis fans, and when I’m at a karaoke bar, it’s Elvis all the way.

I really liked the way the tours were run – each person was given an iPad with preloaded audio content (narrated, bizarrely, by John Stamos), meaning you could take it at your own pace.

Graceland, Memphis, TennesseeDining Room, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee
The property itself was so much fun to explore. It’s totally garish and gaudy, but great – it’s always fun to have a nosy in someone else’s home, and the touches that would’ve been cutting edge in their day were hilarious. Three TVs next to each other, on at the same time? Sure.

Graceland, Memphis, TennesseeGraceland, Memphis, Tennessee
I also had a look at the inside of his private jet, his collection of cars, and his iconic headstone.

Living Room, Graceland, Memphis, TennesseeLiving Room, Graceland, Memphis, TennesseeElvis' Grave, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee
We started getting a little peckish, so once we’d had our fill of Elvis for the day, we went in search of a bite.

Pollards, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee
Luckily, we didn’t have to venture too far afield – just further down Elvis Presley Boulevard to Pollard’s Bar-B-Que.

Pollards, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee
I couldn’t get enough of that Southern Hospitality  down there – everyone was so friendly, so welcoming, and so accomodating. Pollard’s was no different, thanks to the attentions of the fabulous Denise! Absolutely starving at this point, I ordered half a portion of ribs, with a side of beans and fried pickles.

Fried Pickles, Pollards, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee
If you haven’t tried fried pickles, you’re seriously missing out (I have a recipe here!) These were great – not too greasy, not at all soggy, and the batter was light.

Ribs, Beans and Fried Pickles, Pollards BBQ, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee
The ribs and beans were great too – the meat melted off of the bone, and the beans were seasoned in a flavoured stock. Again, if you’re looking for fine dining, this isn’t it, but if you’re looking for a good, cheap eat, then this is right up your street.

Have you ever been to Graceland? Be sure to comment below, and be sure to let me know on TwitterFacebook or Instagram!

Pollard's Bar-B-Que Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nashville, Tennessee

I had been back in New York for about 24 hours before I was on another plane – this time, to the American South.

Nashville, Tennessee | Islandbell
Despite having lived in the States for ten years, I’ve never actually managed to venture to that part of the country before, and I’m so glad I did!

Nashville, and Tennessee in general, is known for its vibrant music country music scene.

Nashville, Tennessee | IslandbellTootsies, Nashville, Tennessee | Islandbell
That, of course, and BBQ (but more on that later).

The Broadway really comes to life at night, full of bars with live country music – it’s a really fun vibe.

Nashville, Tennessee | IslandbellCowboy Boots, Nashville, Tennessee | IslandbellNashville, Tennessee | Islandbell
We stayed in the downtown Nashville area, in a Residence Inn. Not only did I have an awesome view from my hotel room, but the room itself was about as big as my flat in London – it was absolutely huge! Nashville is a great city to walk around in – it was around a 30-minute walk from the Broadway, and I couldn’t recommend my hotel enough.

Peg Leg Porker, Nashville, Tennessee | Islandbell
Not least because the lovely staff (who were amazing. I absolutely LOVE Southern hospitality) pointed us in the direction of our first BBQ feast in Nashville – Peg Leg Porker.

Peg Leg Porker,Nashville, Tennessee | Islandbell
Peg Leg Porker specialise in dry ribs and pulled pork – they do it really well, and represent what’s truly great about unpretentious, standard Southern fare. The food is deliciously dirty and messy, and the venue is decidedly no-frills, but it is absolutely excellent (and really hit the spot after a delayed flight)!

Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich, Peg Leg Porker,Nashville, Tennessee | IslandbellPulled Pork BBQ Sandwich,Nashville, Tennessee | Islandbell
The pulled pork sandwich with two types of beans looked absolutely incredible – the meat looked succulent, and juicy, and the smokiness made this dish smell absolutely heavenly.

Peg Leg Porker, BBQ Pork Ribs,Nashville, Tennessee | Islandbell I had half of the rack of ribs with fries and coleslaw. The meat really fell of the bone, and the sauce was delicious, and didn’t overpower the flavour of the meat. The coleslaw was dressed perfectly – not too much mayonnaise, and the vegetables were crisp and fresh.

While they haven’t beaten the best ribs in the world quite yet, I would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone visiting the area.

Nashville, Tennessee | Islandbell The best part about walking around Nashville, instead of driving, is that you’re more likely to pop in and discover places you might have missed, like the Yazoo Brewing Company!

Yazoo Brewery, Nashville, Tennessee | Islandbell They are a local microbrewery based in the Gulch neighbourhood, and is a really nice place to just sit back and relax. They also brew Gerst beer, reviving a local brand that was the stuff of legends before Prohibition. I love that!

Yazoo Brewery, Nashville, Tennessee | Islandbell
In total, I was only in Nashville for just under two days, and there were so many things I wish I could’ve seen – the Grand Ole Opry, RCA Studio B, the Hermitage… but I can always see those next time.

I’m really glad I managed to go for a drink inside the Union Station Hotel, which used to be the main railroad terminal from 1900 – 1941.

Union Hotel, Nashville, Tennessee I absolutely love the old-timey names for the trains – the ‘Pan-American’, ‘Dixie Flyer’, and the ‘South Wind’. I wish they had such awesome names for the trains in the UK!

Union Hotel, Nashville, TennesseeUnion Hotel, Nashville, Tennessee
I had an absolutely fantastic time in Nashville, and for the rest of my stay in Tennessee – stay tuned for what I did next!

Have you ever been to Nashville? Be sure to comment below, and be sure to let me know on TwitterFacebook or Instagram!

Peg Leg Porker Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Golf with Monarch

I was a tiny bit sad when I turned 24 this year – it’s the last year before I officially turn a quarter of a century old, and feels like a bit of a milestone.

#GolfWithMonarch, N1 Golf and Vinothec Compass, North Greenwich, Compas#GolfWithMonarch, N1 Golf and Vinothec Compass, North Greenwich, CompasBut what I didn’t already realize was that I was practically bordering on 70, if my Wednesday night plans were anything to go by!

#GolfWithMonarch, N1 Golf and Vinothec Compass, North Greenwich, Compas#GolfWithMonarch, N1 Golf and Vinothec Compass, North Greenwich, CompasThe plans consisted of fly fishing (with the lovely folks at Orvis), followed by an evening of golf. Monarch Airlines invited me to their #GolfWithMonarch event. If I thought golf was for old people though, I had another think coming!

N1 Golf is located right next to North Greenwich station, and has an incredible view of Canary Wharf.

#GolfWithMonarch, N1 Golf and Vinothec Compass, North Greenwich, Compas#GolfWithMonarch, N1 Golf and Vinothec Compass, North Greenwich, CompasIt’s in a fantastic location, and the newly opened venue is really contemporary and fun. It’s got comfy seats, and an amazing big city feel – this isn’t your grandfather’s golf course.

I was playing with Alina, Haydy, and Chynna, and at the end of the evening we all left with pro golf contracts and new glittering career paths ahead of us.

#GolfWithMonarch, N1 Golf and Vinothec Compass, North Greenwich, Compas#GolfWithMonarch#GolfWithMonarch, N1 Golf and Vinothec Compass, North Greenwich, CompasBy which I mean we were all pretty terrible, although I was the worst by a mile. We did manage to get some great shapes going, and #CheckThatBooty trended*.

#GolfWithMonarch, N1 Golf and Vinothec Compass, North Greenwich, CompasBeef Tapas, #GolfWithMonarch, N1 Golf and Vinothec Compass, North Greenwich, CompasAn absolutely hilarious round of golf was followed by tapas and wine tasting at the restaurant downstairs, Vinothec Compass.

The tapas was really incredible – beautifully presented and delicious, too! Unfortunately the wine tasting portion of the evening turned out to be beer tasting, but by that point I’d had more than enough prosecco, so that suited me fine.

Tapas, #GolfWithMonarch, N1 Golf and Vinothec Compass, North Greenwich, CompasPork Tapas, #GolfWithMonarch, N1 Golf and Vinothec Compass, North Greenwich, CompasIt was an absolutely fabulous evening – made even better by the fact that the lovely Olivia won the Instagram competition and flights to Barcelona, the lucky thing!

Pork Tapas, #GolfWithMonarch, N1 Golf and Vinothec Compass, North Greenwich, CompasSeafood Tapas, #GolfWithMonarch, N1 Golf and Vinothec Compass, North Greenwich, CompasSeafood Tapas, #GolfWithMonarch, N1 Golf and Vinothec Compass, North Greenwich, CompasMany thanks to Monarch for a great evening – you can check out their golfing holidays here!

You can find N1 Golf at Tunnel Avenue, Greenwich Peninsula, London, SE10 0QE.

* Total, utter lie.

I was invited to spend the evening with Monarch at N1 Golf, but all opinions are my own.