Author: Esteem Publications

hiking trails

Seven of the Pacific Northwest’s most impressive hiking trails.

Toketee Falls

We’re starting off small with Oregon’s Toketee Falls. This stunning waterfall in the Umpqua National Forest takes less than a mile hike to reach. You’ll probably recognise it from the many photos circulating Instagram, because this view is truly breathtaking. The two-tiered waterfall flows down the side of a cliff that surrounds the area, making it even more beautiful. The 0.8-mile hike is perfect for kids, a busy day or those who don’t love hiking but do love a view.

Carroll Rim Trail

This dry trail is the exact opposite of the last one. Instead of a lush forest and waterfall, the Carroll Rim Trail spirals through the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon. This trail offers the best views of the Painted Hills, and some of the best sunsets you’ll ever see in your life. It can be steep in some areas but is only a 1.6-mile round trip, so it’s easy to fit into a busy day if you’re in the area.

Colchuck Lake

This Washington hike will offer you one of the best views of your life, as well as quite the workout. Colchuck Lake has been described as “heaven on earth”, but it is a nine-mile round trip to get there. It’s totally worth it, though! This lake’s striking blue water is unforgettable and if you’re a hiking lover, it is a definite must-do!

Nisqually Vista Loop Trail

Nisqually Vista Loop Trail is a 1.1-mile hike on Mount Rainier in Washington. Great for families and offers some of the most amazing views of the stunning mountain. The trail is paved, so it’s more of a scenic walk than a hike, making it perfect for all ages. Be sure to get to the carpark early in the morning, though, as it fills up quickly!

Rattlesnake Ledge

Rattlesnake Ledge is the perfect hike to take if you’re on a trip to Seattle because it’s so close. Take a break from the city for a day to see this gorgeous trail. The hike is rated moderate to hard and is a four-mile round trip, with an elevation gain of 1,160 feet. The trail is also pet-friendly so you can bring your pup, and if you don’t have a dog, you’re guaranteed to see some on the way up.

Oneonta Gorge

This amazing one-mile Oregon hike is tucked away in the Columbia River Gorge. The hike is best done in the summer because for most of it, you’ll have to wade through shallow water. Although your feet may get a little cold, the gorgeous view of Oneonta Falls at the end makes it all worth it. As you walk through the creek, you’ll also be surrounded by the picturesque, moss-covered walls of the gorge. While hiking through a creek may seem intimidating, but truly,  you can’t miss this one!

Mount Storm King

Of course, we saved the best for last! Mount Storm King in Washington has been described as some of the best views people have seen in their lives. How could you pass that up? The hike has a 2,300-feet elevation gain in just two miles, so come prepared. While the trail is difficult, if you take it on in nice weather and with the proper equipment, you’re in for the view of a lifetime.

Whether you’re a hiking lover, or just looking for a breathaking view, we hope this helps you pick out which gorgeous trail you’re going to take on, while on your next trip!

Gill @ NotJustTravel says

Explore the magnificent North West of America on a self-drive round trip from Seattle. From £6855 for 2 adults on 5th September. Price includes return flights from Manchester, accommodation, car hire and driving directions.

how to choose your Thai villa vacation island

Any 1970s backpacker who might venture into Phuket or Koh Samui today would definitely have a hard time recognising the places they used to know. The paradise islands of Thailand have grown from the far-flung tropical hideaways they once were. The old paths are now paved, fishing boats have given way to yachts and cruise ships, and the thatched seaside huts have been replaced by high-end accommodations, including star-studded resorts and, of course, private luxury villas.


With an elongated landform, Phuket enjoys longer stretches of beaches, especially along its western side, which faces the Andaman Sea and the vast Indian Ocean. Areas such as Patong and its six-kilometre long Bang Tao beach are popular for its fine white sand.

However, there are very few villas here privileged with a beachfront. There are plenty of hillside properties offering splendid sea views, either walking distance from the beach or just a short drive away.

The coastal woodlands of Kamala, along Phuket’s famed Millionaire’s Mile, are home to luxurious villa estates with spectacular clifftop properties looking out into the ocean.

Should you prefer a beachfront setting, there are a good number of villa options in the more remote areas of Phuket. The exclusive Cape Yamu Estate on the quiet eastern side hosts some of the island’s most luxurious beachfront villas. Though the beach here is not as ideal for swimming, it is perfect for walking or sunbathing and has a view of the distant Phang-Nga bay cliffs.

Up north, in the neighbouring Phang-Nga province, beachfront properties are also found along the secluded Natai beach area, with its unspoilt 10-kilometre stretch of ocean-facing beach.


Koh Samui still possesses the true island-village vibe, which has already gone in most parts of Phuket. And, although you will find a good selection of lively establishments there are no high-rise buildings or multilane concrete highways.

For this same reason, Samui also enjoys more beachfront options among its private villas. Along the northern shores, you will find vacation homes right next to the lovely Maenam beach. Down south, if you are after complete seclusion, the peaceful neighbourhood of Laem Sor offers a selection of luxury villas on the far south. But arguably, the best choice would be the quiet Lipa Noi beach – a gorgeous stretch of fine and unpretentiously white sand.

Samui also boasts impressive hilltop villas that capture the island’s awe-inspiring coastal landscape from high above. You will find these in the areas of Choeng Mon, Maenam and Nathon.


Phuket is more advanced in terms of development. with more shopping malls. The more popular party venues are also found in Phuket, however, Koh Samui has its own offerings of beach clubs.

The yachting scene is thriving in Phuket, evident with its four different marinas that present gateways to the wondrous formations of Phang-Nga Bay and neighbouring islets. Although it has no marina, yacht charters are also available in Koh Samui offering tours to the exciting islands that dot the Gulf of Thailand, including the Angthong National Marine Park.

Other leisure activities that can be enjoyed in both islands include golfing, Muay Thai, yoga, zip lining, scuba diving, snorkelling, and visiting elephant sanctuaries.

Accessibility and transport

Phuket has an international airport undeniably a key advantage. Because it is much larger than Samui, fixing your itinerary and transport around the island will need a good deal of preparation.

Koh Samui, with its small-town feel, allows you to explore its central areas on foot, Roads are less developed but because of its smaller size and circular form, distances between places are
also shorter.

Gill @ NotJustTravel says

Stay at the luxurious COMO Point Yamu pool villa for 2 weeks for £11,585. Price is for 2 adults and includes return flights from Manchester on 7th November.


JOURNEY around the world, with itineraries that range from a few hours to many  days.

The Belgrade–Bar Railway

Country: Serbia and Montenegro

Duration of trip: 10 hours

Takes passengers over 435 bridges and through 254 tunnels, from Serbia’s capital to the shores of the Adriatic in Montenegro.

The California Zephyr

Country: USA

Duration of trip: 51 hours

There’s no better way to see the heartland of America than on the California Zephyr, a railway that climbs the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada before descending to the Pacific Coast.

VIA Rail Canada The

Country: Canada

Duration of trip: 86 hours

Passengers of The Canadian spend four days watching golden prairie fields, rugged lake country, and picturesque towns pass by their dome cars from Toronto to Vancouver.

Palace on Wheels

Country: India

Duration of trip: 7 nights, 8 days

Palace on Wheels is a luxury resort aboard a train — complete with a spa — that takes riders past India’s temples, forts, and the Taj Mahal on a seven-night passage.

The Glacier Express

Country: Switzerland

Duration of trip: 7.5 hours

The Glacier Express connects two major mountain resorts in the Swiss Alps, giving riders a whirlwind tour of Switzerland’s snowy peaks, mountain meadows and storybook villages.

The Train to the Clouds

Country: Argentina

Duration of trip: 15 hours

The Train to the Clouds follows zig-zag tracks across the rugged Andes on its way from Salta, Argentina, to the Chilean border. It’s one of the highest train rides in the world.

The Shongololo Express

Country: Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Duration of trip: 12–15 days

Africa’s best affordable railway, the Shongololo Express includes pit stops in wildlife reserves and craft markets across Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express

Country: Russia

Duration of trip: 14 days

The Trans-Siberian Railway offers a 14-day excursion through Russia that passes by endless grasslands and Lake Baikal, the deepest lake on Earth.   

The Ghan

Country: Australia

Duration of trip: 54 hours

The Ghan takes riders through the fiery red centre of Australia, offering access to the dramatic scenery and indigenous sites that are off-limits by other modes of transport.

The Orient Express

Country: Multiple, including the UK and Italy

Duration of trip: 2 days

The century-old Orient Express transports riders to the golden age of rail travel, with its four-course dinners and black-tie glamour. It runs from London to Venice in two days.

The TranzAlpine

Country: New Zealand

Duration of trip: 5 hours

In New Zealand, the TranzAlpine lets riders take in the epic vistas and awe-inspiring plains between Christchurch and Greymouth. It covers 139 miles in just under five hours.

The Belmond Grand Hibernian

Country: Ireland

Duration of trip: Varies
The Belmond Grand Hibernian brings a “shimmering world of indulgence” to the Irish countryside. Its cushy observation cars offer pristine views from Dublin to Cork or Belfast.

Gill @ NotJustTravel says

India’s Palace on Wheels and Rajasthan from £5695 per person based on 2 people sharing departing on 14th October from London Heathrow.  Experience the lifestyle of the Maharajahs as you visit walled cities, marvel at the astonishing Taj Mahal and enjoy tiger spotting in Ranthambore National Park. Price includes 15 nights (6 nights on Palace on Wheels and 7 night hotel accommodation),

Tamara Lawson


Tamara receives numerous commissions from the UK, USA, Southern Africa and Australia to create paintings that complement interior decor. These commissions draw out her talent to bring the character and essence of the room into her art.

To do so she employs a wide variety of styles, materials, glazes and textures. She is not bound by pre-set routines. All her work is original, as she does not offer her work for print.

Whilst she also exhibits at galleries in London, St Tropez, New York, South Africa, wider Yorkshire and many other international locations, you can currently see Tamara painting from her studio shop in Ilkley. Her little studio shop offers sculptures, glassware and, of course, her original oils.

Pop in and see her or, even better, commission her to create a piece unique for your individual tastes. You may recognise her name as she has previously had galleries in both Ilkley and Harrogate.

15 South Hawksworth Street, Ilkley,
LS29 9DX

T: 07553345934



Hello, my name is Angela, I have been a florist most of my adult life – I love every minute of it. I worked for various florists before finally being lucky enough to open my very own dream shop – `Floral Dance` in 2016. Then in March this year I was honoured to win `The Best Independent Retailer` in the annual Ilkley business awards. A very special moment for me.

As a local florist I love getting people walking in and ordering flowers, then the joy of creating the perfect flowers for each customer literally gives me pleasure every single time. As we are in a little village a mile out of Ilkley our passing trade is limited. We do take lots of phone orders to be delivered locally – which is a big part of my working day. If you want to send someone locally a beautiful bouquet please ring us direct – I promise you wont be disappointed.

I try really hard to be a floral specialist, so I avoid selling gifts etc. We do complement our flower range with a few scented soaps, candles and cards as many clients want to add a little gift to the flowers, when they are buying as a gift.

What I adore doing is WEDDINGS – I love to see the post wedding photos and the letters of appreciation from the bride and sometimes the guests. I get lots of referrals from wedding guests which makes me very proud.

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding day.

At Floral Dance we cater for all budgets and individual requirements. At your initial consultation, I will take the time to listen to your ideas, vision and individual style. We will all discuss the aspects of your wedding to make sure that the flowers you choose for your special day are carefully selected and designed especially for you.

If you don’t know quite what you want, we can inspire and excite you with endless possibilities.  Whether you are planning an intimate, family wedding or a lavish, formal reception, every detail is considered, right down to the colour of pins and choice of vase.

Please feel free to call or pop in – I always have time for a good wedding.

We Cover the West Yorkshire area including Ilkley, Otley, Skipton, Leeds, Guiseley, York, Bradford, Harrogate and surrounding areas.


Look out for our simply gorgeous and unique flower trailer. We are located at the bottom of the car park in the centre of Ilkley, every Friday and Saturday. Our selection is as good as any fully stocked local florist. My flowers are as fresh as they can be. Also being out in the spring and summer fresh air adds some glamour to the local area. We meet to true characters and are very lucky to have some regular customers who have become friends.

Please come and see us – we love meeting new people and hopefully you will leave will some gorgeous flowers that will last for ages.


118 Bolling Road, Ben Rhydding, IlkleyLS29 8PN

Tel: 01943 969918


Interiors is our Passion

Here at our shop in Otley you will find everything you need to create exciting living spaces. We carry many brands ranging from traditional to the more contemporary. Keeping up to date with the current trends, we endeavour to stock the latest collections from our array of local, UK and International fabric suppliers. We pride ourselves on our knowledge of interior design. Why not pop in and be inspired, even if it is just for a tin of paint.


12-14 Westgate, Otley LS21 3AS

Tel: 01943 462428


The Agora

Right off the cuff I am putting it out there that this restaurant is superb, as are the über-friendly staff. I cannot praise it highly enough.

This is directly from the restaurant’s website:

“Experience mouth-watering Greek and Turkish cuisine in a relaxed and happy atmosphere. The Agora restaurant is perfect for a spot of lunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday or a delicious dinner every evening.

“We are a family-run business, serving a variety of authentic dishes made from only the finest and freshest ingredients. When you choose from our varied menu or ask about our daily specials, you will instantly discover more about authentic Greek and Turkish cuisine.

“From our varied meze platters and slow cooked Kleftiko to our homemade Baklava and imported Mythos and Efes beers. The Agora gives you a real flavour of the culinary delights of the Aegean.” I could not have put it any better.

The owners and staff are so lovely and genuinely friendly. You almost feel like you are in their home. They treat you like friends, even the young staff in their waistcoats (that look a little odd on them …) are friendly; not your typical millennial with a miserable face. I enjoyed chatting to them.

The food is authentic and quite plentiful. To start, we had king prawns that were cooked perfectly. How they offered that many for that price surprised me – extremely good value.

The mains were to die for. All were excellent, but our mixed seafood platter of salmon, bass, prawns, etc., was the star of the show. The fish was exquisite – the seasoning was spot on and it even arrived on fire to add a little theatre. The presentation was just as impressive as the taste. It was the perfect combination accompanied with rice, as I did not want the flavour of the fish drowned out by anything else.

The atmosphere was conducive to an evening of good food and good fun. The live singer made us feel like we were on holiday (the venue hosts live piano music with Sam Levon pianist, and singer, every second and fourth Friday of the month). I was really disappointed that I had driven, as I was settling into good food and a few drinks, but alas I could not drink much; I sooooooo wanted to as was enjoying the holiday vibe.

Since dining here my wife has been twice with friends and one of them has been three times. My only disappointment is it’s taken me three years to discover The Agora.

It is located on New Road Side in Horsforth. You can park right outside, which is a bonus as it was throwing it down the night we ate there. It was 7 pm and the restaurant was already three-quarters full.

The two-course offer runs from Sunday to Thursday ALL DAY, for £14.95 (except special days and the Christmas period). The Agora is open for lunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12.00 pm.

Super restaurant and even better staff.

Six semi-secret Spanish islands

La Gomera: The Roque de Agando is a massive volcanic monolith.

La Gomera has a number of nicknames, including ‘the land that time forgot’ and Jurassic Park, thanks to its unspoilt landscape of centuries-old forests, clinging to sheer rocky cliffs like bespoke tapestries. La Gomera has over 40 signposted viewpoints but you won’t miss the Roque de Agando – a volcanic monolith that juts from the earth like a prehistoric signpost. Lush laurel forests carpet the island and a stroll through the Parque Nacional de Garajonay feels like walking through an enchanted wood.

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