Up and Away with Francesca

Up and Away with Francesca

What is your name?


Where do you live currently? ( just town, don’t be putting your address!)

A little village called Heel (pronounced like hail) in the Netherlands!

Where are you from? (If it’s not currently where you live.)

Nottingham, UK

What do you do?

I am a Marketing Specialist! I really enjoy it, even if it’s a little challenging right now working from home. Before this, I was a barista and I sometimes miss an early start to the day, getting everything set up for the day with the smell of freshly ground coffee. Yum!

Where and when did we meet?

We met in Maastricht during training for our jobs! I was in customer service and you were in social media, but we had lots of the same training. I was walking into work one day with someone we had both mutually but separately befriended, and then we were introduced and the chemistry was instant! I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this Charlotte girl is so sweet and nice, and she’s funny, and she seems super cool, I hope she wants to be my friend, how do I get her to be my friend?’ Then we almost immediately went on to develop our first inside joke (love you SADMIN) and our friendship blossomed. YAY!

Frankie looking out of yonder adorably

Where’s the last stamp in your passport from? Or where was your last staycation to?

I guess I’ll answer this in two parts!

I only have one place stamped in my passport because I most often travel to places that don’t require stamps, and the one stamp is from Rwanda! I went there with a small group of fellow school students when I was 16. It was absolutely beautiful. We were learning about the Rwandan genocide in school, and we visited a lot of significant historical sites, several schools and even went on safari. It’s bizarre to look back on actually, it feels like a whole lifetime ago.

Our most recent trip away was to spend Christmas at my sister’s house in Shipley, near Bradford. Shipley is right next to Saltaire, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and there are loads of lovely places to visit in both places for craft beer and great food. Shout out to Edward St Bakery, a pop up which serves the most delicious sandwich I’ve ever had. We had almost a full week there in December, and I’m very glad we did because now I’m not sure when we’ll get to see each other again – we were supposed to see each other in April and then again in June, and of course everything is just cancelled now.

Were you planning to travel this year, if so, where to?

Yep, so we were going to go to Mallorca over the UK Easter break to stay in a villa with a big group for my stepdad’s 60th birthday. Me and my partner, my sister and her husband, his 4 kids and one grandchild, and of course him and my mum were all going to go. We had bike rides planned, a swimming challenge, and we planned to buy lots of veggies from a local market to grill on the barbecue. We hope we can do this next year instead.

Other than that, we planned to visit my sister in October – who knows, this could still go ahead? I don’t know… I’m not ruling it out, but realistically I don’t think it’s unlikely that there will still be strong restrictions in place.

We didn’t have any other, bigger holidays planned this year because we’ve just bought an apartment (yay!) and are working on that right now!

Once this is all over – name three (or more) places on your bucket list you plan to visit.

Hmmm! If we’re talking crazy ‘what I’d do if I had no work, all the time and I’ve won loads of money’, then I’d do long tours of places. I’ve always wanted to visit Japan and make a long trip out of it, travelling by train to lots of different places. See cities like Tokyo and Osaka, go to smaller villages, see Mount Fuji…

I also have big dreams of going on a sort of North American tour. I’d love to go to New York, Chicago, Portland, Toronto, Montreal, and see lots of nature, too. Like Lake Louise and Yosemite! As you can tell, my places to see are just aaaaaall over the place and probably not practical at all.

More realistically, what I really want when all of this is over and can more realistically achieve… is what I planned in June, which is have my sister visit and go somewhere fun in Belgium with her. I also want to go to Italy to see Lake Como, and I want to go on a gorgeous honeymoon with Marlou next year, somewhere sunny!

What is the biggest lesson travelling or your life travels so far have taught you, that you’d share with me?

Ooh big question! Specific to travelling: switch things up a bit. If you normally leave everything up to chance and are spontaneous, try planning a few things out in advance. If you always plan everything and have a full schedule, clear it up a bit and just see what you stumble across! You have to find a good balance, I think.

Also: if you’re travelling from terminal 3 at Manchester Airport and are trying to get to departures, don’t take the lifts up to the departure lounge because you’ll be waiting for ages. Keep walking past the lifts, outside through the covered walkway all the way through, then you can go back inside and to your right there’s an escalator that leads right to security. You’re welcome.

Do you have any travel tips to share?

Is there a ritual you always take before a journey? Or maybe one item you can’t leave home without?

I always try to leave my home relatively tidy! So that when I come back it feels welcoming and I don’t have to get to work cleaning up straight away.

Frankie sitting with cat whilst being adorable

We’ve got a lot time on our hands now. What books, podcasts, or TV series’ / films would you recommend I check out?


My all time favourite book that is a warm embrace whenever I return to it is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

Other books I’ve loved in recent years:

  • The Power by Naomi Alderman
  • Mort by Terry Pratchett
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  • Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
  • 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

The list could go on and on, but I’ll leave it there!


Reply All, Wine & Crime, By the Book and Armchair Expert!

TV Series:

I recently use TV just for comic relief, so here are my favourite feel good/comedies:

  • What We Do in the Shadows
  • Parks and Recreation
  • The Office

But I’d also highly recommend The Umbrella Academy, which I had low expectations for but it delivered!


I love a good psychological thriller like Side Effects, but at the moment we’re burned out from the pandemic and DIY, so we’ve been watching really dumb comedies.

How are you spending your extra free time?

DIY, DIY, DIY! And taking baths, now that I finally have one. If I didn’t have to do DIY, I would love to be writing, painting my nails, organising my clothes and books (more of a just-moved thing). Plus lots of video chatting with family and friends!

Is there anything you have been / are now working on that you would like to share with me and the world?

I’ve been on a creative dip for a while now. Last year I started up an Instagram page to try to encourage me to make and share more work, which was successful for a few months! And then I just kind of… stopped. I would love to start posting again though. Just this week I illustrated a card for a friend, but it’s a surprise and she hasn’t received it yet, so shh! I like to pretend (to myself only) that I’m a writer, the one problem being that I very, very rarely actually sit down and write! HELP!

Frankie being adorable

Please drop your socials, websites, and creations here, so anyone who wants to know more about you can find you!

My Instagram page is @coffeebeanpaws – maybe I will actually upload something again soon! I promise I will try!

Charlotte Gray
Charlotte Gray

Thanks for spending some time Up and Away with me!

I’m writing here to keep track of not only my travels to new places, but also my daily journeys through learning, loving and life.

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