A Day Out To Cambridge By Train

I have often taken East Anglia for granted. I grew up in Suffolk, Ipswich to be precise. When I was a teen, days out would usually involve shopping in Norwich or going a bit further afield to London. I never really thought about days out anywhere else in the East of England. As I've grown older, I've started to appreciate and respect my small part of the country and the variety of things there are to see and do here. Acres and acres of countryside and coasts fill the East of England with some truly stunning cities and market towns nestled inbetween. Alongside this, we have some of the oldest recorded towns in the country and some beautiful architecture that reflects this. 

I was recently given the opportunity to travel with Greater Anglia Trains to the beautiful city of Cambridge and Punting for 2 with Visit Cambridge.

Our train journey started at our closest train station, Sudbury. We set off early as total travel time was 2 hours, 20 minutes and we wanted a full day to explore the city. Our train arrived on time and wasn't overly busy which was a bonus. We really couldn't have picked a better day weather wise, the sun was out and it was quickly starting to warm up outside. My worst nightmare is travelling on public transport with no air conditioning on a hot day and I was so relieved that every train we used had air conditioning. Once we were on our last change of the journey, we sat back, relaxed and took in the stunning views of the countryside. For me, travelling by train adds to the adventure and you get to see so much more than you would when driving, and without the added stress.

This wasn't my first time to Cambridge but nonetheless, I was really excited for the day ahead. There's something truly magical about the city; streets lined with boutique coffee shops, cobbled streets, and bicycles are the way to travel. You're never too far away from beautiful architecture so you can see why this is a very popular tourist destination. It's said that J.K Rowling was inspired by the famous Cambridge University and it's grand dining halls which, have said to have inspired the Great Hall of Hogwarts.

Once we arrived in Cambridge, it was a short walk into the centre and to our boarding location for our punting tour. I've been wanting to go punting ever since I discovered it was a big thing in Cambridge. There are various punting companies to choose from along the river and you have the choice of going on a guided tour or giving a go yourself. We took the 45 minute guided college tour with Scudamore's which took us along the river past the famous Trinity College. As it was half-term and the first hot, sunny day in a while, it was really busy and we had to wait an hour for the next tour. I would advise getting your tickets as soon as you arrive so you don't have to wait too long. This wasn't a problem for us as it gave us the opportunity to see the hustle and bustle of the city. 

The punting tour itself was so informative and such good fun. Our guide was clearly spoken and gave us an insight into the life of a Cambridge University student and the history of the colleges. The highlight for me were the beautiful bridges we travelled under including the St John's College Bridge of Sighs. The river itself was incredibly busy and there were a few near misses, mostly from people doing it themselves. Our guide said people often fall in but we didn't see that happen, luckily! The boats themselves have umbrellas and blankets for rainier, colder days so they really do operate all year round. I'd like to go back in Autumn to see the leaves changing and when it's less busy. 

After the tour, we headed back into the centre and grabbed a quick bite to eat before heading back on the train to embark on our journey home.

I'd recommend Cambridge to anybody looking for a day out destination, as there's so much to see and do and it's so easy to get to by train. Punting was an amazing experience and I'm so glad I've finally done it! I think next time we head to Cambridge, we'll give punting a go ourselves (If I can pluck up the courage to trust the boyfriend).

If you're heading up from London, you can catch the train from Liverpool Street Station and the journey takes around an hour and 20 minutes. You'll be sure to catch the stunning East Anglia countryside along the way.

There are so many great destinations to visit in East Anglia and summer is the perfect time for it. Whether it's visiting the coast, shopping, museums or admiring the countryside, you'll never be stuck for something to do.

Greater Anglia offers great value off peak fares with 2FOR1 on top London attractions and if you book in advance, tickets from Norwich to London are available at just £10, Cambridge – London at £7 and Southend-London just £5 one way. Accompanying children travel for just £2 return. You can now also purchase advance on the day up to 10 minutes before departure and this costs less than the equivalent single ticket.

Discover destinations on the Greater Anglia network and ticket prices: www.greateranglia.co.uk 
Scudamore's Punting: https://www.scudamores.com/

Have you been to East Anglia before? I'd love to hear where! Leave a comment below.

This post contains PR samples but the opinions are my own and are honest.

Thanks for reading!

Cruelty-Free Labelling And How You CAN Buy Cruelty-Free On Your Weekly Shop

Before I made the decision to go cruelty-free, the weekly shop wasn't something I thought too much about. I would usually pick up whatever was on offer, without even glancing at the back label. Back then, I wasn't aware of the vast amount of brands that test on animals and I don't blame myself for that, I just think there wasn't the awareness that we have today. With more and more people opening up their eyes to animal testing, here's my guide to cruelty-free labelling and how you can buy cruelty-free on your weekly shop without the worry.

Cruelty-Free Labelling
Leaping Bunny Certification Programme 
The Leaping Bunny Certification is the international standard for brands producing non-animal tested products. Cruelty Free International are a non-profit organisation who are passionate and work tirelessly to help brands to validate their consumer products as cruelty-free. The Leaping Bunny logo is issued to companies which produce cosmetic, personal care and cleaning products and which comply with the Humane Cosmetic and Humane Household Product Standards. 
It remains the most trusted cruelty free certification out there.

PETA Beauty Without Bunnies Program 
PETA has it's own cruelty-free program and logo to go with it. There has been some criticism on the way brands are awarded this certification, they are assessed by completing a questionnaire and asked to sign a statement and, that's literally it. There's no monitoring system in place to ensure these brands are telling the truth. You're quite unlikely to see this logo on UK products as this is used more in the US.

Choose Cruelty Free Accreditation 
CCF is an Independent, non-profit organisation based in Australia. They actively campaign to end animal testing of cosmetics, personal care and household products. CCF will not accredit cruelty-free brands unless their parent companies are also accredited. Brands on the CCF list are regularly asked to undergo re-accreditation to ensure that they still comply with the criteria. Again, you're unlikely to see this unless you're purchasing Australian brands in the UK.

As cruelty-free brands have to pay for certifications, sadly, some choose not to. This can be super confusing for conscious consumers both new and experienced.

The good news is is that brands who aren't in the program are developing their own labelling. There has been some discussion that there are fake cruelty-free logos out there so you should do your research before buying from a brand you don't recognise. Most will state their animal testing policies on their websites. If not, don't be afraid to contact them for clarification.

Supermarket Cruelty Free Own-Brand

Whether you've been cruelty-free for a while or you're just starting out, my top tip to buying cruelty-free on your weekly shop is to go own-brand. Sadly, majority of the major brands you see in your supermarket sell in China, which therefore means testing is required. Most major UK supermarkets have wised up to the fact that consumers are more aware than ever before when it comes to animal testing and either display the Leaping Bunny Logo or their own version.

Here's what the supermarkets say and which of their products are cruelty-free.

Sainsbury's - Own-brand personal care and household products display the Leaping Bunny logo. 

Waitrose - All of their own-brand personal care and household products proudly display the Leaping Bunny logo. 

Aldi - A new addition to the group, Aldi now have Leaping Bunny Certification and it is displayed on their own-brand household cleaning products. They are currently working towards Leaping Bunny Certification for their own-brand personal care range and hope to have this by the end of 2017.

Asda - Although they don't carry the Leaping Bunny logo on their own-brand products, they state the following on their website:

Morrisons - They state that all of their own-brand personal care and cosmetic products are cruelty-free and carry the Leaping Bunny logo.

Marks & Spencer -They offer a great range of own-brand cosmetics, personal care and household products, all of which carry the Leaping Bunny logo.

Tesco - All own-brand personal care, household and cosmetics are cruelty free. Tesco currently aren't part of the Leaping Bunny Certification Programme but they have designed their own labelling which is clearly displayed on their products.

Co Op - They were the first retailer to be awarded the Leaping Bunny logo on their own-brand personal care and household products.

Supermarket Own-Brand Products I Love
Sainsbury's and Waitrose are my favourite supermarkets for buying cruelty-free as they have so much on offer. I find toothpaste and mouthwash are two of the hardest things to buy cruelty free on a weekly shop and I adore Sainsbury’s brand Oral Care named OraCare. It's so reasonably priced and a great alternative to the big brands that test. In regards to Waitrose, I regularly use their own-brand Sensitive Shower Gel and Watermelon Hand Wash. Not only can you buy their products in-store and on their website, you can also pick them up from Ocado.

Looking To Treat Yourself?
If you're looking for more luxurious personal care or greener options on your weekly shop, Ocado is the place to shop. I only use SLS-free, green shampoos and Ocado have an amazing choice. Here is a list of cruelty-free brands they currently sell:

Further reading and Resources:
https://www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/ - search for brands that are certified
http://www.choosecrueltyfree.org.au/ - list of CCF accredited brands 

Thanks for reading!