Travel tales

My seventh year On the Luce

My seventh year On the Luce

The sun’s shining, the Champagne’s on ice and there’s a double birthday celebration for both me and the blog. On the Luce has reached it’s seventh anniversary (and I’ve reached a slightly older age!) after another big year – I reached my goal of visiting 50 countries before turning 40, braved my fear of public speaking to run courses on Pinterest, and signed up for a big new adventure up north. More on that below, but as ever I want to say a massive thank you to everyone reading – whether you’ve been here since the beginning (in which case I apologise for some of those old posts!) or have just found this site this year. Your comments, support and the fact you keep on reading keep me going on this crazy blogging journey. So here are some of the highlights from the last year On the Luce, and a preview of what’s coming next.

Read more blog birthday posts

Hellbrunn Palace

Channeling the Sound of Music in Salzburg

My top posts of year seven

New York film locations: A Manhattan walking tour – I feel like I worked hard for this post, walking for miles on a seriously sweaty July day, so I’m glad it’s doing well! Part of my love for New York comes from growing up seeing it on screen in so many films and TV shows, so I decided to hunt down some of Manhattan’s most legendary locations from Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Ghostbusters and turn them into a walking tour.

On the Death in Paradise location trail in Guadeloupe – The BBC TV series Death in Paradise was what introduced me to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, so I had to go and check out some of the filming locations while I was there to see if it was just as gorgeous in real life (and it was). Clearly I’m not the only one who fancies taking their chances on making it out of Sainte-Marie alive as this post gets a boost in traffic every time the series is on TV – usually in the depths of winter when everyone’s craving sun.

Deshaies in Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe’s Deshaies (aka Saine-Marie)

The first-timer’s guide to visiting the Cinque Terre – My trip to the Cinque Terre last year was a major tick off the wishlist, so I condensed everything I learnt into this post to help other first-time visitors know when to visit, where to stay and how to get around. Basically everything I wish I’d known before I went. Plus it was a great excuse to post up a ton more Cinque Terre pics – this is one seriously photogenic place.

10 fabulous French weekend break ideas – I’ve had so many fantastic trips to France – it was the first country I ever visited as a kid and I usually make it out there at least once a year now. So in this monster post I shared 10 of my favourite French weekend break destinations, with what to see, eat and where to stay for each. Since then I’ve also published a British version and there’s a wine weekend edition coming soon.

London underground: Euston’s secret tunnels – What lies beneath the streets of London? I found out on a Hidden London tour of the secret tunnels underneath Euston station, preserved like a 1960s time capsule. I loved this tour so I’m glad the post has been so popular. In fact I’m heading underground again next month on another Hidden London tour, this time to the tunnels underneath Charing Cross station.

Hidden London tube tour

Rocking the high vis underground

My top places of year seven

Kraków: My city crush of the last year has to be Kraków in Poland. It’s got my perfect mix of fairytale architecture and fascinating history – plus some surprisingly brilliant food – and all for a bargain price. And though it feels weird to call visiting Auschwitz a highlight of the trip, it was one of the most moving experiences I’ve had on my travels so far and something that’ll stay with me for a long time.

Jungfrau region: There’s something about the mountains, and the peaks of Switzerland’s Jungfrau region have to be some of the most beautiful I’ve seen – and when you add in some scenic trains I’m in heaven. This was one of the most fun press trips I’ve done, with a great group of people and non-stop beautiful views. I’m such a convert to summer in the mountains that I’m off to the French Alps this month for another dose.

Views at Schynige Platte, Jungfrau, Switzerland

How’s that for a view?

Salzburg: If you love Christmas, you definitely need to get yourself to Salzburg next winter – this city takes festive to the extreme. We left a snowy England behind for a weekend packed with Christmas markets, glühwein, Mozart, palaces and Sound of Music locations (a British Christmas tradition, even if no-one in Austria’s heard of it!). All we needed was a dusting of snow for it to be a perfect winter wonderland.

Guadeloupe: A patch of France in the Caribbean, Guadeloupe is a real departure from those Caribbean resort stereotypes. It was Death in Paradise than first made us want to visit, but the island was full of surprises – from the bridges through the jungle treetops to the eye-wateringly strong rum cocktails, volcano walks to joining in water aerobics sessions in the sea with the French retirees in the morning!

Saint Lucia: Guadeloupe wasn’t my only Caribbean island of the year, I also made it out to Saint Lucia for a few days at the Cap Maison hotel. There were volcanic peaks, beachside BBQs, chocolate-making classes, cocktail-making sessions, Creole cookery and new cat friends. This year’s definitely given me a taste for the Caribbean now and am plotting my next island (I’m taking suggestions so let me know your faves).

Pool at Cap Maison, Saint Lucia

Poolside in Saint Lucia

My goals for year eight

Do a Master’s degree: Yes this is the big one – and it’s coming soon. For years I’ve been thinking about going back to university and learning something new, and this year I finally did something about it (it must be a turning 40 mid-life crisis as two of my friends have done the same!). So this autumn I start a Master’s degree in Tourism, Heritage and Sustainability. It’s at the University of Glasgow, but they have a separate campus for their environmental degrees so I’ll actually be based in Dumfries, in the far south of Scotland.

The course is really applied so there’ll be lot of visits around the area – and I’ve never even been to Dumfries so I’ve got a whole new region to explore, with the Lake District and Scotland on my doorstep. I’ll be splitting my time between student halls in Dumfries and home in Cheltenham so there’ll be lots of train journeys, but I can’t wait to get started and see where it takes me. The plan is to maybe do some consultancy for tourist boards and travel brands after – and there’ll no doubt be more sustainability content on the blog.

Live more sustainably: Along with the academic side of the course, I’ll be trying to bring some of the things I learn into my life and travels, and reduce my impact on the environment. I’ve already made a start – cutting down on using plastics, recycling more, buying second-hand and eating vegetarian during the week. And so far its been pretty easy. But next up I want to take it to the next level, like cutting down on flights (especially short-haul), buying ethically, going plastic free and eating locally and seasonally.

Puzzlewood, Forest of Dean

Going green in Puzzlewood

Up the passive income: Being a student means I won’t be travelling in quite the same way for the next year, with fewer press trips and a lot less travel out of the country in term time. It’s also going to cut into my blogging time so I’ll be doing less collaborations. So to keep me in baked beans and Supernoodles (is that what students still eat?), I’ve been trying to build up sources of passive income. So that’s why I now have ads on the site, and have set up a few affiliate schemes so I get a bit of income from my old posts.

Revamp all my old posts: On the subject of which, I’ve started a big review of my old content. I had 500 posts from the last seven years, and some were really awful! Think random ‘what I did on my holidays’ diary posts or picture posts of about 100 words. So I’ve been sorting out the wheat from the chaff and already deleted over 50 posts (you really won’t miss them – no one actually read them!) as well as updating and combining others. There’s still a few hundred to get through though so it’ll keep me busy for a while.

Launch my gin blog: Because a girl can never have too many blogs, I’ve also registered a new site which is under development. Like all the best ideas this came to me after a few gins, this time on a distillery tour at Eden Mill in St Andrews. The site is called The Gin Map and it’s going to be a directory of all the different gin tours and tasting experiences you do can around the UK. So I’ll be checking out as many distilleries as I can over the next few months (it’s a tough job I know) and hopefully launching at the end of the year.

Gin tasting at Eden Mill, St Andrews

Ginspiration at Eden Mill

Thanks again to everyone for reading and here’s hoping year eight will be a good one!

p.s. you can get monthly updates on the latest blog posts and travel news by signing up for my newsletter.

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  • Reply
    July 12, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    Congrats on the blog and the masters, and happy birthday! I’ve loved following your blog (and meeting you!) over the years and looking forward to seeing what’s in store for you next!

    • Reply
      July 13, 2018 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks so much – it’s definitely going to be a big change! Hope things are all going well with you too.

  • Reply
    Karen Johnson
    July 13, 2018 at 12:29 am


    • Reply
      July 13, 2018 at 2:05 pm

      Thank you!

  • Reply
    July 13, 2018 at 9:33 am

    Congrats on the big blog anniversary & happy birthday! 🙂

    • Reply
      July 13, 2018 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    July 14, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    Thanks for all the wonderful blogs! Happy blog anniversary and a huge Happy Birthday. Sounds like a fab year ahead too. All the best.

    • Reply
      July 17, 2018 at 11:54 am

      Thanks Darlene!

  • Reply
    July 15, 2018 at 10:38 am

    Congratulations on the milestones and exciting news on the masters! It must be so scary thinking of going back but I’m sure it will be 100% worthwhile. I checked that one out a few years ago and it looked absolutely amazing – can’t wait to hear how you get on. All the best in year eight!

    • Reply
      July 17, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      Thanks John, scary how time flies! Really looking forward to getting started on the Master’s – though someone’s going to have to remind me how to write an essay!

  • Reply
    Kathryn @TravelWithKat
    July 18, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    I really don’t know where the time has gone but I have loved following your adventures and even joining you on one of them. Is it just the one? It feels like more from reading all about them. On the Luce is a fabulous blog and you should be very, very proud!

    • Reply
      July 19, 2018 at 1:59 pm

      Ah thank you! Yes it does feel like it should be more than one – we’ll have to try and remedy that in year eight!

  • Reply
    Cathy (Mummytravels)
    July 18, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    Congratulations on all the milestones – and what an exciting adventure with your masters. I don’t know Dumfries either so am looking forward to your discoveries and gorgeous photos (although if I can get to Guadeloupe first, that would be fine). And I think there’s something in the air – I’m having a similar blog overhaul (though not quite at the seven-year mark) but quite a few old posts are getting the chop. Always fun to look back on some old trips though.

    • Reply
      July 19, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      Thank you! It’s quite a task (and involves quite a few cringing moments) going back through the archives but so glad to have the blog to remind me of all the travel adventures I’ve fit in over the years.

  • Reply
    Sara @ Travel Continuum
    July 22, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    How I love your endearing honesty, Lucy – your comments about old posts made me chuckle. Dumfries & Galloway is a gorgeous area; I visited last year for a dark skies conference and it is lovely – may I suggest the arty coastal town of Kirkcudbright and Galloway Forest Park for a couple of visits (in between study sessions, of course!). And finally, what an inspiration to be studying for a Masters despite an already busy life – bravo! I’m still hoping to be in a position to study for an astronomy degree at some point, so I am full of admiration. x

    • Reply
      August 2, 2018 at 9:16 pm

      Thanks Sara! And thanks for the Dumfries and Galloway tips too, I’m really looking forward to getting to know the area, though the study is really going to be a challenge after so long away.

  • Reply
    Vyki from Museum Mum
    August 8, 2018 at 10:49 pm

    What an exciting year ahead! I’ll look forward to reading more about sustainable travel, and your other posts in the coming years

  • Reply
    Tanja/The Red Phone Box travels
    September 2, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    happy 7 years! great achievement!

    • Reply
      September 3, 2018 at 9:57 am

      Thank you – time does fly!

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