With the Easy Jet sale and my holiday booking bug continuing, travel is still taking over my brain. So after booking another trip (this time to Geneva), I took into my head that I fancy myself one of those scratch off maps. Towards the end of 2015, I decided this year was going to be the year I saw as much of the world as I can afford. Why not get myself a little momento to record my progress? So in search of nice ways to record my travels, I found this scratch map and scratch travel journal. (Both of which make cute ways of ticking off places on my list, the travel journal especially.) And in the process I found, Uncommon Goods. Something between an Etsy and a Not On The Highstreet, Uncommon Goods offer unique gifts from artists and small manufacturers. Their approach lets suppliers make products in a more socially and environmentally friendly way. It's all about sustainability. And after getting lost on their site for a few hours, I'm probably going to end up with all sorts! I'm not trying to encourage your spending (because I reckon most of you might be still feeling the pinch after Christmas and a bleak January. But with Valentine's Day and Mother's Day creeping up, it's the perfect place to inspire your gift ideas. There's so many unique pieces, and it's always great to know you're supporting artists and smaller manufacturers.
I'm not really sure where the last couple of weeks have gone. Between starting my new job and planning my latest adventure, the days have been a blur. After a lot of lusting over travel blogs and Instagram, I've had it in my head that I'd love to visit Norway or Iceland. So when Helen found some cheap flights to Reykjavik, I couldn't resist an impulse purchase mini break! Hopefully this will be the start of many adventures this year and a whole more travel blogging... But instead of getting hung up on colder climates, let's go back to Boa Vista. Bear with me because this is going to be a very photo heavy post!
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As far as travelling goes, I can honestly say I don't think I've ever been somewhere as stunning as Cape Verde. The white sand beaches and turquoise waters have all the makings of a real beach lover's fantasy. A spur of the moment sort of adventure, we decided to visit the lesser developed Boa Vista after flights to Sal sold out. Despite a minor amount of researching, I'm not sure I was ready for the untouched, raw beauty of the island. Boa Vista, the third largest of Cape Verde islands, is something of an unspoiled paradise. With only a small tourist to local ratio, and even fewer hotels and complexes, it's the perfect island to explore if you're looking for something a little off the beaten track.
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Yeah, there's the Thomson all inclusive (and I'm sure very beautiful) resorts. But if you're happy to skip that, the island's most beautiful beaches are the ones that aren't overrun with people. If you're staying in Sal Rei, Bahia and Morabeza offer the perfect retreats with big beds and bars right on the beach. f drinking cocktails and listening to reggae isn't your cup of tea, the breeze on this part of the island makes it the perfect spot for windsurfing. Otherwise, it serves as the perfect respite from feeling like you're scorching. Both beach bars have nice friendly staff and offer reasonably priced cocktails and great food. But Morabeza definitely tips the scale with the most amazing grilled halloumi salads and lobster pasta served right on the sand.
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Visiting in April time, the weather is sunny but quite overcast. But then there aren't many places this side of the hemisphere that you can rely for consistent sunshine on early season. Having a few cloudy days and being a quite windy island, meant that the weather varied between quite cool and blistering. Of course, even on the overcast days, we still managed to catch plenty rays in the hazy sunshine. But being an island in the mid Atlantic ocean, the sea temperatures were pretty chilly! The beauty of the beaches more than makes up for it. And while the fine white sand gets EVERYWHERE, it's the sort that's easy to dust off. If you're as much of a sucker for salty skin and hair as I am though, it's a small price to pay.
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Despite being one of the largest of the Cape Verde islands, Boa Vista has the smallest population. The main town, Sal Rei is the most densely populated in terms of locals, but still a work in progress. Much like the roads. If you're looking for a week in paradise with white sand beaches, this is definitely the place. But don't be scared of a little off-road action! Most of the taxis are 4x4s and pick ups driven by friendly locals with simple wooden benches fixed in the back. With little in terms of development yet, the decay of the island's colonial past is the most striking part of Boa Vista's architecture. It has the haunted quality of a place that's been abandoned and left to decay. Colonised by the Portuguese, its name comes from the Portuguese 'good view'. And with its sun-bleached colour and softly crumbling buildings, the town still has a certain elegance.
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If you're looking for strips of bars and night clubs, or fancy restaurants you won't find them in Boa Vista. At least not yet. The island is a tranquil haven that you can already tell will be taken over by huge complexes in the next 5-10 years. It's one of those places you have to see now. An untouched slice of paradise just off the African coast, with sand so white and water so perfectly turquoise blue it'll take your breath away.
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Part of my new year's resolution was to do more - especially with my blog. So the last few weeks, I've been thinking about where I want it to go in the next 12 months. In my Morocco post, I mentioned I'm going to be starting a little more travel blogging. Or at least writing about my travels. Because honestly, the travelling part isn't the hard bit and I'm already collecting thousands of photos along the way. So I guess, travel writing seems like the next natural progression for my blog. And it's an area I feel like more excited about than pretty much any other in my life! Mainly because I'm making it my mission to go see as many places as I can this year. Like I said in my post on Marrakech, there's 4 years left of my twenties and my passport, and intend to fully make the most of both! In the last year I've visited some incredible places from the beautifully untouched rawness of Boa Vista (which is where these photos were taken), to the architect's paradise, Chicago. So I thought, maybe I should get around to writing about my experiences, sharing what I loved about the places and helping to encourage others to visit. Because otherwise, what's the use in just collecting thousands of photos of a place?
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Travelling has always been one of my great loves. It's been a huge part of my life for longer than I can even remember. I'm not even exaggerating - my first ever trip was to Corfu at 6 months old. Since then my parents spent years nurturing my travel bug, taking me to amazing places and encouraging me to see as much of the world as I can. It's not just about the sunshine (although, let's be honest, it's definitely a factor), I love seeing new places. The culture, the sights, the food. I love the whole experience of exploring new places. Even if it's a whistle stop tour of somewhere, there's nothing beats a mini adventure. I've always been the type of person that would happily skint myself to afford as many holidays as possible. And I don't see that changing any time soon.
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This time of the year in particular though, always has my wanderlust soaring sky high. It's the combination of dark mornings and dull grey days that just have me looking to escapes. Most nights I'm endlessly searching for where my next destination should be. From drowning myself in prosecco and pizza in Venice, to adventuring in Cape Town or sipping rum on a beach in Cuba. If money (and of course work) was no object, I'd be constantly jetting off somewhere exotic. Especially during these grim winter months! So I thought for my first couple of travel posts, I'd stick to sunny places and share some of my most recent adventures - starting with the incredible Boa Vista (which hopefully I've whet your appetite for with these snaps).
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It's only the second week of January, we're still two and a half weeks away from payday, and I am completely and utterly broke. Call it Christmas overindulgence. Call it really bad maths. It doesn't matter because either way, my January blues is being tempered with a very poor bank balance. Which really isn't doing much for my mood when we're surrounded by all this grey weather anyway. While I prefer not to live life on the breadline, (and generally I don't... I'm not THAT bad with my spending habits), after a lush Christmas and insane New Year, I'm finding it hard to feel bad about my complete disregard for my finances. Yes, I'm paying for it now though. And while I'm desperately NOT spending ANY money AT ALL, I've been indulging myself with the idea that it's a good idea to go thrift shopping soon.
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Whether it's hunting down vintage designer goods with sites like Hardly Ever Worn It, or just plain old charity shopping, I love second hand clothes. It's something about the character of old pieces, that I love, and of course their stories. Yes, I'm the sort of person lusting after Chanel jacket and dreaming of its former life, draped over the shoulders of some chic Parisienne. Or the glamour of a thick fur coat, worn over a heavily beaded 20s drop waisted dress. Or a thick sheepskin coat worn with a heavy fringe and thick corduroy A line. I know some people get freaked out by that sort of stuff, but I love it. I love feeling like I'm wearing a piece of history. Even better when there's clearly a lot of love and attention gone into maintaining it. So while I'm avoiding the high street the rest of the month, my newly found skintness seems like the perfect excuse for a trawl around Tynemouth this weekend... Because I mean spending less money than usual on stuff is almost, if not just as good, as not spending at all, right? RIGHT?
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So the holidays are over and back to work blues has already kicked in. Already. I mean, it's actually only been two days. And yet I'm already convincing myself that actually, come to think of it, real life is not for me. No thanks. I'll go back to eating my body weight and drinking prosecco. In my last post I touched on my resolutions this year and the focus I want to give 2016. Mainly I want to focus on doing more. Over the holidays icelolly.com ran a competition to find their holiday hero. Their competition was hunting for people who've done amazing work in their local community. Whenever I read about people who are making a difference, it always makes me inspired to do more. What difference am I making and what more can I do to give back or to help people? In my day job I get the privilege of working with some brilliant minds. People who've had a great idea and just ran with it. I help them take a step back and develop their brand's strategy. Sometimes it means untangling the mess that early stage excitement has caused to figure out their next logical steps. One thing I love about working in a marketing role is the opportunity to help people. To help them make sense of things and to help them grow and learn. For the past 12 months I've had a little project in my head that might be able to do just that. It's a collaborative project, which means I'll need to enlist some help. But after a year of pushing it to the back of my mind, I've decided this is the year to give it a go. 2016 is about to bring a lot of change into my life, so it makes sense to wade through my web of ideas now. Before they get too tangled up in the excitement of new starts.
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I'm not usually one for resolutions but since I've been going through a lot of change lately, 2016 feels like the year I need a little more focus. I always feel like it's sort of a waste of time making resolutions and I don't really buy that 'new year, new me' stuff. So let's keep this simple. In 2016 I'm going to worry less and do more, put myself first and travel to as many places as I can afford. And if I start 2017 feeling happy, exhausted and penniless then I'll know I'm on the right lines. It's my last working day of the year, I've finished my wrapping and Christmas is so close I can practically taste the turkey. After what's been a pretty exhausting year, I can't wait for a break. This time of year is always a bit strange though.. I find I get so built up for Christmas that by Boxing Day I'm in full festive slump mode. You know that feeling when you've eaten too much, spent more than you should have and exhausted yourself by trying to do too much and see too many people? That. And that moment when the madness finally stops and you get time to think again. It's the time when usually I start thinking about what's next to look forward to. Whether it's planning a spa visit, or my next holiday. I just want to be somewhere relaxing. Preferrably with a great big marble bath tub like The Rosewood Spa.
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Last year I indulged in a little weekend spa staycation and it was the perfect little break to chase away my post Christmas blues. There's nothing like indulging in a deep tissue massage and having someone knead away all the stresses of the previous year. I've looked at the Rosewood hotel for a while now, so I wouldn't mind a little weekend trip away. I always feel like spa trips are the perfect way to boost health kicks. You leave feeling all soothed and centred and much more likely to convince yourself to eat more veg and drink water and stuff. Or at least that's always what I tell myself when I leave full of green tea and zen thoughts... Traditionally the new year is the time to kick start all the stuff you're meant to do for the next twelve month. Late December / January is always when I feel like I need to start making plans. Not to be a better person. But to have things to look forward to. Having all that time off makes me more restless than relaxed. Another reason (probably) to talk myself into booking some sort of spa weekend.
Winter light really isn't great for photos (so excuse the graininess, please), but I've been having such a festive afternoon, it seemed a shame not to take a couple of snaps. Me and the girls have planned a Christmas visit to the Tyneside Cinema to see It's A Wonderful Life tonight. So I've spent the day working my way through wrapping up their gifts and listening to old Christmas records on my Crosley. Usually when it comes to Christmas presents, I'm frantically disorganised. I've always got an idea of what I'm getting everyone. But somehow I'm always still picking up bits and pieces right up until the last minute. This year though I've smugly managed to get all my gift buying done early. Some of my favourite little bits have been these Liz Earle gift sets. I've been a fan of the Cleanse and Polish for a while, but I'm a sucker for any kind of special, festive packaging. And these little sets are adorable. I picked up the Cleanse and Polish tube and Sparkling Skin Duo for friends. But then got a little seduced by the Glossy Nails Gift, which is a lovely nude that I thought would be a nice little addition to my mam's present pile. If you're still out hunting for presents, I'd definitely recommend a little visit to Boots. The products themselves are great and packed with natural ingredients. I don't tend to use my Cleanse and Polish everyday so I find that the stuff seems to last ages, so I feel like it's a really good value product. The cute gift packaging makes them a lovely little treat. Plus I'll take any excuse really to collect a few extra Boots points over the festive season too!
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