I big thank you to Jess from I’ve Bean Travelling for this nomination. Jess’s Travel and Food Blog is celebrating its second birthday so why not drop by to wish her many happy returns and read up on her travels, her home town Toronto – and food of course!


  1. Provide a link to the creator’s original award post.
  2. Answer the questions provided. 
  3. Create 7 unique questions.
  4. Nominate up to 10 bloggers and ensure that they are aware of their nominations.

Jess’s Questions

1. What hobbies have you picked up while travel is on hold?

You’d think with so much time on my hands this past year, I’d have something constructive to show for it!!! Learn a language, pick up a musical instrument, write a bestseller ….. not a bit of it. Haven’t had time!!!! I’m a puzzler – not brilliant but I enjoy them and can happily spend an hour or two every day at crosswords, logic puzzles, etc. I’m reading a bit more than before. I’ve been participating in a few photo challenges, making me realise the need to up my game, and this has finally pushed me into an online photography course -that’s no doubt my most worthwhile effort. I’ve learned so much about my neighbourhood from walking the roads daily that I’ll probably join the local Historical Society when this is all over.

During the first lockdown I got into jigsaws – this time round I decided to use that time more productively… so I’m knitting!

Here’s a cushion cover – all my own work – so proud!!!!

2.What is your favourite travel related film or television series?

Have to wave the Irish Flag here – not for Ireland – but for the wonderful (I think!) 2008 In Bruges. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are two Irish hitmen hiding out in Bruges. Irreverent – yes! Unkind to Belgians – yes! But Bruges looks absolutely beautiful and I bet its done wonders for their tourist trade!

3.What is the best/worst accommodation you have stayed in during your travels?

We’ve been lucky to stay in many beautiful places over the years. The best was not our most expensive and certainly not the most luxurious….

In 2006 we visited Tanzania and as part of the trip we spent six nights on safari. The first night was at Tarangire Safari Lodge. Tarangire isn’t as well known as the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti but – oh boy!! The lodge is located up on a ridge overlooking the river and watering hole. From our ‘tent’ we could watch the animals approach the watering hole as evening fell. I could have happily stayed sitting there for the full week…..

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Two occasions spring to mind….

In 1988 ( yes – I’m THAT old!) in Thailand (Yes – I know – and THAT cool!) we got a bus to Kanchanaburi to see the River Kwai. We picked a guesthouse that looked cheap and cheerful. It was money up front – about 50 cents – even way back then it was suspiciously little. It was dire to say the least – the bed! – and the ‘bathroom’! We went off for lunch and I threw a strop – so back we went, got our stuff and moved across the road – to a place charging $2! By evening I was having another hissy fit. There was a lovely old colonial hotel in town – can’t remember the name. We tidied ourselves up and ventured in to dare check the price of a room. $10!!! We took it!

So technically I didn’t actually stay in the worst accommodation!

Around the same time – late ’80’s – I recall a camping expedition here at home. We went to Galway for a few nights with a two man tent. One campsite was primitive enough – a farmer’s field with a basic sanitary block. I wore my favourite yellow sweatshirt to bed (to be fair, I’d probably worn it out on the town that night and was too cold to take it off!). I stirred around dawn – very unusual after a night out!! I realised I was scratching … and my eyelids felt odd. I got my eyes opened and noticed that my sweatshirt was no longer plain yellow but covered in some sort of dust. Nope! We were covered in millions – and I mean millions – of tiny, tiny bugs. They were everywhere – all nice and snug, wallowing in our body heat! I’d say my screams were heard back in Dublin! The residents of the other 5/6 tents – now wide awake of course – were fine … lucky us to have pitched our tent on some sort of nest. Our car was right beside us and thankfully we’d left everything in the boot. I remember it took 7 rinses (cold water of course) to clear my hair alone. We collapsed the tent and dumped it – along with my lovely yellow sweat shirt…and went back to sleep in the car…

4. What is the strangest food you’ve eaten while travelling?

I’m not adventurous with food – really! My favourite is a steak with baked potato – see what I mean!! So luckily I’ve never felt the need to crunch insects or chew eyeballs to fully embrace the vacation experience! But I will make an effort – within reason! I’m good enough with meat (sorry vegans) and will eat game meats in Africa, Kangaroo in Australia (is that still legal??), Crocodile, etc. I’ll take snails if they’re lathered in garlic butter! I’ll try any stew/curry as long as its not too spicy. I’ve a great dislike of refried beans and wurst so menus can be a restricted in Mexico and Germany!!!

5. Plane, train, or automobile: which is your preferred mode of transportation while abroad?

Easy – car! I love the freedom of self – drive holidays and promote them as often as I can. We’ve driven in Namibia, Mexico, Australia, Oman, Costa Rica and extensively in Europe and the US.

Of course, this being an island nation, I can’t actually enjoy those trips without a plane!

I have a romanticised notion of rail travel. I’ve long thought about travelling from home to China by train (apart from the Irish Sea of course!)… Dublin – London – Paris – Moscow – Trans Siberian Express – Trans Mongolian Express….. But it would cost an absolute fortune because I can’t see us sharing a sleeper the whole way… I’ve nothing against fellow travellers, and we have shared sleepers and cabins on occasion – but I like my own space as well… so I suppose that would mean First Class…. lovely … but imagine all the places I could go for the same money!!

6. Travel is cancelled, forever. You have the chance to go on one final, single country trip for two weeks before you sink into lockdown depression — where will you go?

This is really mean – coming from a girl in Canada!!! You’re ok Jess – you’ve a bit of scope. You’re going to leave me here on this small island forever! And what about my Vitamin D!!!!

Ignoring the logistics of travel, I have to pick the Galapagos ….. top of my wish list. So a 7 night cruise there – the best all-inclusive package available of course. You say one country but I’m allowing myself a stopover – I’d better get some serious sun in before you send me home forever. I should pick a place I’ve never visited but my thoughts are frequently brought back to a verandah in Placencia in Belize….. just a guesthouse.. nothing fancy…but …. I could sit there forever (or for my last few days of ‘freedom’!). And sure its pretty much on my way home from the Galapagos – give or take a half dozen flights I suppose!!!

For a bit of exercise, I just have to roll off the verandah onto the bed in front….

7. Show us the last travel photo in your album and tell us where it was taken.

This was taken on March 1st, 2020 at the Middleton Place Plantation outside Charleston, South Carolina.

Four of us school friends (yep – pals for almost 50 years!!!) went over to another school pal for a week. We were based close to Charleston but managed to get to Savannah for a few days also. I’m not sure when – if ever – I’d have visited this region if I didn’t have a contact but I absolutely loved it and will hopefully get back there sometime with himself for a longer road trip.


hopsskipsandjumps has proved a very important outlet and lifeline for me this past year. I cherish all you online friends who have helped ease away the hours and days. Thanks also to old friends and family for your ongoing support, criticism and abuse (only joking!)

Instead of my nominating another list of recipients, I’d really love it if all you readers would pick one of Jess’s questions and answer it in the comments below…please. Sure what else would you be doing on a Monday!!


  1. Great post Marie, I don’t think I would ever get over the camping episode. You will be leaving Ireland well before I get to leave Australia
    I’ll have a look at Jess’s questions and see if I can answer one
    Nothing else to do on a rainy Monday in Perth

    1. I never associate Perth with rain!!! We’re actually having a nice enough spell here which is helping a bit… lots of signs of Spring about now – as opposed to you of course – heading towards winter….

      1. Yes that’s right Marie, it is strange weather for this time of year. The only thing I dread about winter is going back into jeans, and will they still fit me 😂

  2. Congratulations on the award – well deserved, from what I’ve seen so far of your blog 😍🏆

    I’ll answer Q3, What is the best/worst accommodation you have stayed in during your travels?

    I have written about some of the best places I’ve stayed already on my own blog (https://www.toonsarah-travels.blog/wherever-i-lay-my-hat-memorable-places/ and https://www.toonsarah-travels.blog/wherever-i-lay-my-hat-continued/. I don’t think I could pick a single one out of those ten, each had something special. And I could add more to the list too, quite easily! For instance, we too have stayed at Tarangire Safari Lodge and I totally agree with you about those views 🙂

    As to the worst, a couple spring to mind. One was a cheap hotel in Petra. It was hot, there was no a/c and we didn’t dare use the ceiling fan because it was hanging my one thin wire and we worried that it could fall while spinning and fly across the room, decapitating one of us!! But more recently I would have to nominate a couple of the hotels we stayed in in North Korea. In fairness to our hosts, they do try to accommodate tourists in the best hotels but in some towns that have only recently opened up to tourism, their best isn’t up to much. Hot water is a particular problem. In some places we were told it was available for just an hour morning and evening (everyone would rush away from dinner to have a shower before it went off again!) In a couple though, hot water was unpredictable or non-existent. One hotel got around the problem by filling the bath tub with cold water prior to our arrival and providing a very large plastic container, a jug for scooping water into that, and a little electric coil thing you plugged in and dangled in the water to heat it!! I decided I could manage with cold water that night rather than risk an electric shock, but my husband took a chance and it worked OK. Add to the water situation the hardest beds I’ve ever slept in (and I normally like a firm bed) – but it was a brilliant trip and we knew they were trying hard to make us feel welcome, so I wouldn’t change a minute of it!!

  3. Congratulations on the award – well deserved!

    I’ll have a go at Q3 – What is the best/worst accommodation you have stayed in during your travels?

    I’ve posted about some of the best on my own blog (https://www.toonsarah-travels.blog/wherever-i-lay-my-hat-memorable-places/ and https://www.toonsarah-travels.blog/wherever-i-lay-my-hat-continued/) so I’ll focus here on the worst. That’s a toss up between a stay years ago in Petra and more recent ones in some of the North Korea hotels we used. The issue with the cheapo Petra pace was that there was no a/c, it was really hot and we didn’t dare use the ceiling fan because it was hanging from a single wire and we thought it might fall while spinning and fly through the room decapitating one of us!

    To be fair to the North Koreans, they do try to accommodate foreign tourists in the best hotel each town has to offer, but in the places only recently opened up to outside visitors, the best isn’t great. The main issue is with hot water. If you are lucky you will get it for an hour morning and evening (all of us rushing away from dinner to have a shower before the hour was up!) In a few places there was no hot water at all. One hotel solved that problem by filling the bath with cold water ahead of our arrival and providing a huge plastic tub, a jug to scoop water from bath to tub, and a small electric coil to plug into the mains and dangle in the water to heat it! I decided I could manage with cold water for one night rather than risk an electric shock 😀 My husband did however take a chance on it and survived 😆

    1. You’ve stayed in so many great places – good idea for a blog post. The only one I recognise is the Lamanai Outpost – loved it there. And you’ve been to the Galapagos!!!! I’m mad jealous!!
      You’ve reminded me of horrors with air conditioning – isn’t it awful when it doesn’t work. That and being too late for the hot water. I can’t believe your story about the electric coil for the water!!! I’d be terrified. But what a creative solution for the hotel (apart from the whole health and safety thing of course!). We expect a lot now when we travel – maybe too much – its an eye opener, and a humbling reminder, of what we take for granted. Thanks a mil for your contribution here. XXXMarie

      1. You’re the first person I’ve come across who’s also stayed at Lamanai! I loved it there and I’m always recommending it, but most visitors to Belize seem only interested in the coast.

        I’ll have to share a photo of that coil some time and tell the story in full 🙂

      2. There’s definitely a full blog post in that coil story!!!
        I suppose if one has visited Belize a few times, there might be a temptation to stay at the coast, but for a first time visit , it would be a shame not to venture inland for even a few days. I could never go so far away and not see as much of a place a possible.

    1. Thank you Jess – and thank you for the nomination!
      Yes – I don’t like ‘minibeasts’ – isn’t it odd that considering all the places we’ve been to over the years, my creepy crawlie story came from home!!!

  4. Great answers Marie! I can quickly answer the worst hotel during travel.
    It was a really bad hotel in Interlaken, Switzerland. The room was dingy, reeked with cigarette smoke, and was in such awful contrast to the beauty around us. And it an quite expensive!

    1. Not something I’d expect to hear from Switzerland! – Just goes to show…. Its terrible to walk into a room and get that smell isn’t it – it never leaves you… no amount of ventilation seems to clear it – it just saturates into the walls and curtains. I bet you’ll never forget that room, despite all the lovely places you will stay in over the years….. XXXMarie

  5. What a lovely post, Marie. Congratulations on your award, it’s well deserved <3 I can easily answer Jess's second question – In Bruges is one of my favourite films ever and I am so glad to find out it's your, too. I've probably watched it around ten times if not more and would love to see it again; Collin Farrell as hit men Ray is brilliant, and I can never get enough of seeing beautiful Bruges 🙂 Aiva

    1. Thank you so much Aiva.
      I was there a few years back with a pal. We went on a walking tour and another person in the group kept asking about the movie! The guide was NOT a fan!! He avoided any direct reference to it where possible and threw the odd glare at the pair of us now and again as if we were personally responsible!!!😅 😂

  6. Congratulations! Enjoyed reading your travel-related response stories. Here’s a few of the strangest food I’ve had traveling: guinea pig in Peru, yak in Tibet, raw horse in Japan, some kind of crunchy toasted insects in Korea – the Japanese friend I was traveling with said she had eaten them as a child. I’m not a meat eater these days, but did take a taste when offered just to experience these things. Thanks for your variation on the award and sharing your questions!

    1. I might be encouraged to try most of those Ruth – yak should be ok …..not sure about raw horse though! Thanks a mil for your contribution. XXXMarie

    1. Oh dear!😖… I must make note never to nominate you Roy!!😅 😂. Thanks a mil anyway for all your support and your lovely complement!! XXXM

  7. Great read! Bruges is such a beautiful place, shame they didn’t enjoy it more in the film haha.
    Good luck with the photography course too! Mine is way off the talent of most travelers but the improvement of technology is helping haha.

    1. Glad you enjoyed!..
      Re photography … I find the more I think of it the worse I get!!! I was so happy in my own little way, clicking everything regardless of quality!!! Now its delete, delete, delete…😅 😂

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