From a 5000 sq. ft house to living on a bus

February 6, 2019

The Mayes family swapped their large home for a cosy converted bus to allow them to travel.

Living in a bus, tiny living, van life, converted bus, living on the road, road trips

We all have different dreams and ambitions. For some it’s winning the lottery, buying a yacht and living the life of a millionaire. For others it’s simply giving up the 9-5 and turning a passion into an income. For me, it’s having more time to spend doing the things I love – travelling, exploring new places, slowing down and not living by the clock day in day out.

Dreaming is the easy part. Turning the dream into reality is the hard part. There’s always some excuse. The need for the well-paid job, the want of conforming to what is ‘normal’, the constant pressure to have the house, the kids, a stable job.

But what if one day you are brave. 

You stop dreaming and start planning on changing your life. The steps could be slow and small, but would you take that first step? Would the fear of failure or giving up the life of security and conformity make you change your mind?

Days roll by and before you know it you are an elderly person sat in a home dreaming of what could have been if you had taken that leap all those years ago…

The Mayes family prove that following your dreams can be reality. They went from living in a 5000 sq. ft house to living in a school bus – with their four children! So those excuses that I mentioned earlier – not such excuses anymore.

Living in a bus, tiny living, van life, converted bus, living on the road, road trips, Scandinavian interiors, bus life
Living in a bus, tiny living, van life, converted bus, living on the road, road trips, Scandinavian interiors, Scandi kitchen, interior design

Why did they do it?

“Life before living on a school bus looked completely different for us, and we needed to make a big change! Basically, we needed to downsize our life! We were living in a 5000 sq. ft house with Gabriel working multiple jobs, sometimes working until the early hours of the morning building business for other people. When we had a large house, we felt the need to fill that house with “stuff” and once we did that, I found myself spending my days cleaning and organizing all the stuff we had! I even had an entire day (Friday) devoted to cleaning the whole house. Gabriel and I were both feeling like we were just running on the hamster wheel of life, doing everything everyone else told us would be ‘best’, keeping up with the life we had built as best as we could. We had become really disconnected in our marriage and knew that if we weren’t happy as a couple there was no way that we could grow a healthy and happy family. So, we quickly realized we needed to change everything about our life”.

Living in a bus, tiny living, van life, converted bus, living on the road, road trips, California living
The family now have the luxury to see the world

“Before we made such a huge decision, we had a family meeting where we went over the pros and cons of living in the bus versus renting a ‘normal’ house. We told the kids they would have less clothes and toys, but they would gain travelling and seeing the country. They were all on board with making the decision to move onto the school bus and hit the road!”

Living in a bus, tiny living, van life, converted bus, living on the road, road trips, California living, kids bedroom design, Scandi interiors
Minimise ‘stuff’ and everything fits nicely!
Living in a bus, tiny living, van life, converted bus, living on the road, road trips, California living, kids bedroom design, Scandi interiors
The Mayes family

So how did they do it? 

“We just did. Once we decided that this was our dream and we were going to make it happen, we did it. We didn’t let people’s opinions stop us. We didn’t let our own doubts or fears get in the way. We didn’t listen to the “shoulds” or “coulds” that arose. We didn’t let our bank account, or consistent pay check rule us.

You can spend your life dreaming of a goal but doing what’s expected of you OR you can buckle down, silence the voices and DO your dream”.

black and white, Scandinavian design, interior design, trilby hat, Scandi interiors, tiny living
Living in a bus, tiny living, van life, converted bus, living on the road, road trips, California living, small kitchen design, Scandinavian design
They have designed the bus with a Scandinavian feel – simple yet cosy.
Christmas interiors, small living, van living, van life, on the road, living on the road, small kitchen interiors
Christmas in the bus!

This family are so inspiring to me. I am guilty of being one of the people who put excuses in the way. I have been talking about my dreams for so long, but so far haven’t taken that first step. There always seems to be something in the way – decorating the next room in the house, a wedding to pay for, the next holiday to save for. But if I want to be living my ideal life, then I need to take my first step. This blog post is my first step. My next step is the planning – what do I need to do financially and emotionally to make my dream happen. 

Gabriel and Debbie remind me of myself and James. James is gone from 6.30am every morning, sometimes working until 9pm in his office to pay for our extravagant house. I LOVE our house, but I do love James more! We are at our happiest when we are outdoors exploring and creating, not tied to our desks. I am a realist and understand that a big house comes with big bills. But a small bus doesn’t – I wonder if James will share my views!!

I am already working on a brand-new website for our new business venture, which I am excited to share with you soon. It’s a venture that can be done on the road and will involve meeting like-minded people!

Here’s to new adventures and big changes! 

Living in a bus, tiny living, van life, converted bus, living on the road, road trips, California living
The Mayes family’s new home

Big fat thanks to The Mayes family for creating an Instagram account to share their journey and for the powers beyond for making me stumble upon it this morning. It has inspired me and reignited a passion and fire inside of me on this dreary Wednesday morning!

(All images and quotes are from The Mayes website. Also do check out their Instagram page for more pictures from their journey!)

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Beat the January Blues – Get outdoors, help others & rethink priorities

January 23, 2019

Stourhead gardens, hiking image, North face red coat, get outside more, Hiking adventures

January is infamous for being the most depressing month of the year. The December celebrations have taken their toll, we are feeling a little fatter than usual (speaking for myself!), the weather consists of rain, rain and more rain, and the bank balance is looking dreary with pay day still a distant dot in the future. But don’t be down! There are many things we can do to lift our spirits.

King Alfreds tower, hiking adventure, misty tower, follies, Wiltshire walks
Mist and cloud provide the ideal conditions for moody photography,
  • It may not be 30 degrees and blue skies, but make the most of the weather regardless and get outside. One wise bird once said, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing”. She’s right! So wrap up, chuck the waterproofs on and take your camera – you may be surprised at how refreshed you feel after a hike in the woods. You could even treat yourself to a quick stop at the local pub afterwards to warm your cockles – Just make sure if you do to only have that one drink – no point doing all that exercise otherwise!
Reeds, winter walks, close up of reeds, Stourhead gardens, King Alfred's tower walk
Red coat, North face jacket, hiking adventures, Stourhead walks, hiking boots

I am lucky enough to have some truly beautiful countryside around where I live, so finding a walking route is never difficult. These pictures were taken during early January when I’d had enough of mince pies and mulled wine and wanted to get back to normal. James and I headed to one of our favourite local walks – Stourhead Gardens to King Alfred’s Tower.

hiking journey, nature, nature close up
red check shirt, lumberjack shirts, hiking boots, hiking boot selfie
A chance to wear our new Christmas purchases – red lumberjack shirt anyone! 🙂
red north face jacket, winter hiking, forest hiking, Stourhead walks, King Alfreds tower
misty trees, trees in the mist, King Alfreds tower, Wiltshire walks

I find that no matter what mood I wake up in, if I can find the get up and go needed, a walk outside dramatically changes my mood. It’s wonderful when I have company, but I also so enjoy a walk on my own. Nature has an incredible ability to revive you and make you realise just how amazing this world is we live in.

Winter walks, Stourhead gardens, woodland walk, North face jacket
tree stump, King Alfreds tower walk
Finisterre hat, green hat, walking selfie
Always one to get a selfie in, got to love him!

It is so easy to feel down at this time of year. I found myself moaning a little last week about the rain, not having as much money to enjoy dinners out and generally just being a bit of a grump.

But my eyes were well and truly opened yesterday and my priorities awakened when James mentioned a young man he met in the changing rooms of the gym who after having a shower, dressed in three layers of clothing. Unfortunately this man appeared to be homeless.

The temperature last night went below freezing. All I could think about all night was “where was he?”, “was he okay?”. How is this fair? Some of us complain about the small things but most of us have a warm home to go to every night, food on the table and the basic necessities.

I am now asking myself, ‘what kind of person do I want to be?’. The answer is ‘a good one’. I want to help others as well as look after this planet. I write on this blog about thinking of others and being grateful, but do I do enough? Do you do enough? I am going to go away and think of all the things I can do to put this plan into action. I have already turned vegetarian and am investing a fair amount of time in learning about the impacts of certain factors to our environment. I will share my findings in the next few posts and hopefully create awareness of ways we can all help.

Awareness is key, so if I can use my blog to help raise awareness then I feel I should.

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Canopy & Stars – plan your next unique escape for 2019

January 9, 2019

cosy cabins, UK breaks, fire pit, campfire, UK escapes, treehouse breaks, hot tub breaks

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas break. Mine seemed to fly by in a flash but was exactly what I needed. Lots of time was spent relaxing (and eating!) and I’m now feeling fresh and rejuvenated ready to take on 2019. 

January is a funny old month. The dark, often dreary days, and Summer seeming like a lifetime away, often gets us all a little down. However, January is the ideal time to start planning a break or holiday. We all feel better when we have something to look forward to. 

Most of us gravitate to breaks abroad, somewhere with plenty of sun and sea views. But you don’t have to get on an aeroplane to enjoy a fantastic and unique escape. The UK is home to secluded coves, dramatic mountains, villages and towns seeped in history and quirky places you can call home for the weekend. And you don’t have to spend a fortune either, which quite frankly is very welcome in January!

Canopy & Stars is the place to go if you are looking for something a little different. Their collection of unique, creative places to stay in the great outdoors gives you a genuine experience of a life more wild. From Shepherd’s huts to Safari tents, there is something for everyone. For the wild souls, there are tents and huts in the woodlands and meadows, with campfires and hikes on your doorstep. For those who like a little more luxury, choose from fairytale treehouses perfect for stargazing or secluded cabins within the unspoilt beauty of woodlands or parks.

The demands of modern day life often have us staring at a screen for a large part of the day, whether that’s a computer, iPad or phone, I’m guessing a day doesn’t go by without several checks of that screen. Sometimes we need to switch off, but to really do that you need to switch off from everything, yes this means the digital world as well! Treat yourself to a digital detox break and book somewhere with no Wi-Fi. I can hear most of you screaming “what? Are you actually crazy?” but trust me, it will do you wonders. Leave it all behind and embrace nature and be uncontactable for a few days. Choose one of Canopy & Stars Digital detox stays and go back to a time when life was simpler.

Here are my top picks from their extensive collection:

For a Cosy Cabin break:

The Saltbox – Elmley, Kent

With windows for walls, wake up to glorious sunrises and views across Elmley’s wild meadows.

“The Saltbox is modern with vintage touches like the copper piping in the beautiful dark blue bathroom and industrial splashbacks in the kitchenette. The star of the show is the fully glazed wall at one end, with the luxurious king-sized bed looking out from the huge window – it even opens fully to really bring the outside in! Or if you want to bring the inside out, you can opt to shower under the stars. Extra comfort comes in the form of cosy wool throws and bespoke textiles, whose prints were inspired by Elmley’s saltmarshes. And what better way to admire these beautiful marshes than with marshmallows toasted over the firebowl!”

UK breaks, Kent breaks, cabin breaks, UK holidays, cosy cabins, unique breaks UK

UK breaks, Kent breaks, cabin breaks, UK holidays, cosy cabins, unique breaks UK
UK breaks, Kent breaks, cabin breaks, UK holidays, cosy cabins, unique breaks UK, canopy and stars

For a Digital Detox:

Laverstock’s Everdene hut – Dorset

Go to the top of the Jurassic Coast’s loftiest cliff, then return to your cosy shepherd’s hut for a campfire supper in the woodlands.

“Laverstock Farm is a family estate where Everdene and Herdwick Hut have found quiet stretches of the Woodland Walk to settle down. You are perfectly positioned for day trips to Lyme Regis and the Jurassic Coast, long hikes up Dorset’s highest hills, Lewesden and Pilsdon and days of gentle meandering through the quiet countryside.”

UK breaks, unique stays, shepherds hut, unique breaks, UK stays, Canopy and Stars
UK breaks, unique stays, shepherds hut, unique breaks, UK stays, Canopy and Stars
UK breaks, unique stays, shepherds hut, unique breaks, UK stays, Canopy and Stars

On a budget:

Shaggy Sheep – Drover’s Rest, Herefordshire

Only five minutes from Hay-on-Wye, you can shop for books, canoe the river, then finish off with a cocktail back at the farm.

“Through a tunnel of trees and past the pretty stone farmhouse, you’ll find your meadow-dwelling safari tents – African in looks, but Welsh in spirit. Far enough away from each other to be private, but neighbourly enough that you can handily borrow a box of matches for the campfire. Your first tell-tale sign of the comfort and luxury is the chimney of a log burner popping out of the top of each tent and the rattan sofa with huge cushions on the porch. Beyond the farmhouse-worthy kitchen and living area padded out with sheepskins and cushions, there are two bedrooms; a twin and a double each with cast iron beds, welsh blankets and black sheepskin rugs. Unzip a flap in the twin room wall to go out onto the deck where you can sit at a bistro table and enjoy the sun all day long. All tents have their own hot monsoon shower and flushing loo in a fully-heated, no-expense-spared stable block, just a couple of minutes’ walk from the tents and torches are provided for night time trips.”

UK breaks, unique breaks, weekend breaks, glamping, clamping breaks, Wales escapes
UK breaks, unique breaks, weekend breaks, glamping, clamping breaks, Wales escapes

With a Hot Tub:

Prothero – Herefordshire

A romantic couples’ retreat in a starlit woodland – explore the nearby Black Mountains then seek out the cosy hot tub.

“A stay at Prothero starts with the sound of birds in the morning, ringing out from the trees that surround the beautifully furnished shepherd’s hut in the 4 acres of the owners’ garden. There are woodpeckers and pheasants, the occasional owl, and the resident chickens, although they tend to hang out next to the outdoor washroom 100m from the hut, where you’ll find the loo and shower. You can get some feed from Reuben and Martha if you want to charm them and their fresh eggs are usually on sale. A breakfast hamper of fabulous local produce can be arranged and evening meals can be delivered too, but there are a host of great places to eat, from the classic local of The Yew Tree, a family favourite just a half hour walk away, to the magical riverside setting of The Bridge Inn in Michaelchurch Escley.”

hot tub breaks, UK breaks, Canopy and stars, weekend breaks, UK escapes
hot tub breaks, UK breaks, Canopy and stars, weekend breaks, UK escapes
hot tub breaks, UK breaks, Canopy and stars, weekend breaks, UK escapes

For some Luxury:

Black Wolf Treehouse – Devon

Step off the path and over the bridge to a secluded place of relaxed, woodland elegance with views of the Devon woods from the bathtub.

“Listening to the stream, the wind in the trees and the hooting owls at Black Wolf Treehouse is a wonderful way to relax, but doing it from the outdoor jacuzzi bath on the deck, or the wood-fired sauna, adds an irresistible layer of decadence. Every care has been taken over comfort, but only to allow you to fully appreciate the wilderness. The bed faces the huge folding doors, meaning woodland views without even getting up. The wood-burner makes for a cosy stay whilst keeping environmental impact down with a plentiful supply of wood from the forest on your doorstep. There’s even a bunk room for the kids to crash in, so when you’ve tired them out in the countryside, the peace of Black Wolf Treehouse is all yours again.”

hot tub breaks, UK breaks, Canopy and stars, weekend breaks, UK escapes, unique escapes, treehouse breaks
hot tub breaks, UK breaks, Canopy and stars, weekend breaks, UK escapes, unique escapes, treehouse breaks
hot tub breaks, UK breaks, Canopy and stars, weekend breaks, UK escapes, unique escapes, treehouse breaks

Inspired? You can find more information on the Canopy & Stars website here.

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Glancing back and looking forward

December 28, 2018

A memento of all the places I have visited with James. I’m looking forward to expanding our collection.

The time between Christmas and New Year is always a strange one. I’ve lost track of what day it is, probably eaten enough food to go up by a dress size, and think that enjoying a glass of prosecco at 10am is acceptable! I’ve really switched off over the past week and taken this time to spend quality time with loved ones, forget work and just relax. After a busy year, it was just what I needed.

But as we approach the New Year, I am starting to feel revved up for what 2019 will bring. The feeling of new possibilities, exciting trips ahead and maybe the most important thing for me – my wedding day!

Here’s a glance back at my 2018, which was a pretty incredible 12 months…

In the middle of the desert at Monument Valley, I became engaged. A complete and wonderful surprise.

I learned that gardens do not look after themselves and actually a lot more elbow grease is needed to tend to a large wild garden than I have time for! Note in diary for 2019 – book landscaper.

After months of planning, I finally started this blog and am enjoying it immensely. In the words of Nike, I’ve learned to ‘JUST DO IT’.

Spray tans are not for me.

Time is more important than money. I’ve continued to ‘collect moments, not things’ and couldn’t be happier.

Planning a wedding isn’t as stressful as they say. (I may relook at this in 6 months time!)

Cutting one’s fringe is never advisable.

Exercise is the best drug.

Me trying to look nonchalent!

I’ll be back in 2019 with new adventure tips, travel inspiration, artists, designers and amazing photography to share with you all. Until then I’ll be enjoying the last few days of gluttony and Harry Potter.

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My Top Five Instagram accounts to inspire

December 19, 2018

Chris Burkard image of a snowy mountain top, landscape image
Image: Chris Burkard

I have a confession to make… I’m a bit of a technophobe. You are much more likely to find me curled up with an actual, real life, physical book, (you know the kind that you open and are greeted with that dusty, stale library smell!) than having downloaded the same onto a kindle or iPad. I’m not even very good on the computer, this blog alone took me several days to create after trying to get my head around WordPress. I’m even known to huff very loudly most days at poor James, who does have a bit of an obsession with numerous games on his iPad. 

However, one piece of technology that I do allow myself and have become a little addicted to is my phone because it allows me access to the wonderful world of Instagram!

I was a bit of a late-comer to Instagram. Sticking to my love of being outside and emerging myself in nature and the simpler way of life, I avoided anything that involved looking at a screen (unless it was related to photography). However, Instagram being a photography site persuaded me to take a peep and I was converted. I’m now guilty of spending an hour a day browsing the app, being inspired by the numerous photographers and adventurers sharing their lives and images. Here are my top five Instagram accounts to be inspired by, from sustainable and ethical goods and adventure photography to Yoga tips, beautiful landscapes and interior design. I think you’ll like these.

THE FUTURE KEPT

Buy Less, Buy Better.
Consciously crafted, sustainable and ethical goods for your home and lifestyle.


So many amazing products here and the brand design – well, those earthy tones and colours are just too good!

See more here.

The Future Kept, image of pouring tea, cosy indoor setting, Instagram accounts
The Future Kept, woollen blankets, sustainable goods, Instagram accounts
The Future Kept landscape image, autumn scene, wild landscapes, Instagram accounts

CHRIS BURKARD

LDS•Photographer•Speaker•Director

I have major life envy of Chris. Travelling, adventure sports, photography – he has my dream job!

See more here.

Snowy mountain landscape by Chris Burkard, adventure and outdoor photographer, Instagram accounts
Astrophotography landscape by Chris Burkard, camper van adventures, Instagram accounts
Chris Burkard adventure photographer sitting by a tree, Instagram accounts
Chris Burkard climbing photography, climbing and kicking adventures, Instagram accounts

JESSICA OLIE

This girl is awesome. She’s inspired me to take up Yoga daily which has helped my mood, wellbeing and flexibility tremendously but she is also very real, her captions are from the heart. Best bit of advice you’ll get today – download her ‘lets start yoga’ eBook, trust me you will thank me for it.

See more here.

Jessica Olie Yoga teacher and expert, lets start Yoga, learn Yoga, Instagram accounts
Jessica Olie Yoga teacher and expert, lets start Yoga, learn Yoga, Instagram accounts
Jessica Olie Yoga teacher and expert, lets start Yoga, learn Yoga, Instagram accounts

LPOTYUK

The annual Landscape Photographer of the Year competition celebrates the great British landscape. 

I’m allowed to be biased with this one. Set up by renowned landscape photographer Charlie Waite (aka my boss man), this account features beautiful landscapes from the UK. Just a reminder of the wonderfulness that is home.

See more here.

Landscape photographer of the year awards, landscape photography competition by Charlie Waite, Instagram accounts
Durdle Door landscape image by Landscape photographer of the year competition, Instagram accounts
Landscape photographer of the year competition, image of sheep, winter scene UK, Instagram accounts

INTERIOR DESIGN COLLECTIVE

A unique community of 26 independent design creatives championing accessible interior design across the UK.

For those ‘non-millionaires’ wanting interior design inspiration. That’s me then!

See more here.

Interior design collective, image of living room, blue rug, city apartment, Instagram accounts
Copper bath, image from the interior design collective, bathroom interiors
Interior design collective, plum bedroom, bedroom interiors, Instagram accounts

And because I couldn’t get it down to five (but am told five is apparently the magic number!), here’s one extra!

JESS OLM

New York based wilderness girl

Because what’s not to like about cosy cabins, wild mountains, festive escapes and so many autumnal tones! This girl’s feed makes me want to go and live in the mountains with a red lumberjack shirt and a wooden cabin!

See more here.

Jess Old outdoor photographer, red checked lumberjack shirt, wilderness landscapes, Instagram accounts
Jess Olm, outdoor photography of snowy scene with hot drinks, Instagram accounts
Jess Olm, cabin escapes, wilderness, cabin breaks, mountain breaks in snow
Jess Olm image camper van and hot drinks with marshmallows, snowy scene

So go follow and be inspired every day. It makes waking up to the early alarm clock much more bearable I promise!

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Finisterre – Sustainable clothing for those who love the outdoors

December 12, 2018

The outdoor enthusiasts and adventure loving folk among you have probably already heard of Finisterre, but for those who haven’t or even the people happier at home, I’ve found the perfect brand that I just have to share with you all. 

Founded in 2003, Finisterre set out to provide British cold-water surfers with product that was fit for purpose, sustainably sourced and built to last. Since those early days, the brand has grown far beyond those original beginnings and have expanded their offerings to outdoor clothing and accessories, which stay true to their founding commitments: Product, Environment and People. 

Image: Lucia Griggi

I’ve never really been a girly girl, I’d much rather be wrapped up in a chunky merino wool jumper and bobble hat than a glittery dress, so obviously I was instantly attracted to the clothing, however the icing on the cake is the fact that I can shop knowing the product I am buying is from a company with such admirable commitments. This is key for me.

So many gift ideas for Christmas from Finisterre

Finisterre’s commitments:

Product: Designed with innovation and sustainability.

“Our design ethos has always been to build the best and most sustainable product we can. We create product that is fit for purpose, built to last and, wherever possible, that encompasses innovation to deliver a sustainability agenda. Through a long standing commitment to this outlook we have created product suitable for any adventure that includes recycled insulation jackets, pioneering FC-Free waterproofs, our own 100% natural blend of Merino, the ground breaking Bowmont wool project and an innovative and responsibly made denim range.

Well designed product becomes part of you; it shares your adventures and journeys, with every scuff mark telling a story”.

Environment: Informed decisions around our impact.

“A love of the sea and a respect of the environment is central to Finisterre; it is our inspiration and our playground.

We are a growing brand in the business of making product, so what we do, and all of our decisions inevitably have an impact on the environment. As a business, we strive to keep this footprint and impact to a minimum. We believe durability is the key to creating the best possible product. Our goal is long-lasting products which are sustainably sourced, using minimal water and manufactured in a responsible manner. This is our commitment and a start in reducing our effect on the planet. Whether it’s the non- mulesed wool in our base layers, the organic cotton in our t-shirts, or the recycled polyester insulation in our jackets, it’s our approach, and one we’ve been refining since 2003 and continue to deliver every day.

With our workshop being situated on the coast, and much of our free time spent in the sea, ocean plastics are always at front of mind, and a growing concern for us. As such, we have made a commitment to eradicating single-use plastic from our supply chain and workspaces by the end of 2018″.

People: Relationships that we believe in

“The attention to detail behind all our products is what drives us forward, as well as the relationships we build along the way, whether it’s with our manufacturers, employees or customers.

We will always make the effort to get out of the workshop to meet and learn from the people who make our product. Developing innovative product starts with an idea born from the workshop, but we rely on the skill and integrity of our suppliers, their support and energy to make things happen. This open-minded approach to innovation and manufacturing has led us to work with leaders in the field”.

Choosing organic cotton means choosing not to use pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and Genetically Modified Organisms that are used in the growth of conventional cotton.

“Sustainability is at the heart of Finisterre; from championing and pioneering the innovation of recycled materials right through to the way we run our workshop.

The Finisterre Fabric Use-Up Project was founded on this basis, solving the problem of unused quality fabric left over from our recycled insulation, and most recently our waterproof jackets”.

Econyl: Turning plastic problems into swimwear solutions

“Currently, the oceans of the world are the unhappy home to around 640,000 tons of discarded nylon fishing nets. Not only is nylon non-biodegradable, the process of manufacturing it is also highly polluting. Both big problems.

This is one of the reasons we’re passionate about continuing our work with ECONYL®. They have invented a way of converting discarded fishing nets and other waste material into a high-performance swimwear fabric”.

Popped this on the Crimbo list!

Pretty impressive I’d say.

I’ve got a few things coming in time for Christmas, the hard part was choosing what to buy! And as is always the case with me, I couldn’t resist a cosy scarf for myself – no guilt though after reading all of the above!! Happy Christmas me!

(Images from Finisterre.com)

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Nkuku – handmade home & lifestyle products

November 28, 2018

nkuku, autumn table, tableware, table decor, dinnerware, gift ideas

I’m literally bursting with excitement after discovering Home and Lifestyle brand Nkuku this week. As usual at this time of year, I’m asked to write my ‘Christmas list’, basically all the things I’d like for Christmas to avoid that awkward ‘wow, it’s amazing’ fake expression when receiving an unwanted gift. 

As we are following the ‘buy less, buy better’ ethos in our house, I’ve put a lot more thought into my gift list this year. At first, I decided I wasn’t going to write one as I’m not actually in need of anything. However, I know my other half pretty well by now and regardless of my request, there will be presents under the tree either way. So, I thought I better make sure they have been purchased from artisans or are vintage pieces.

nkuku, marble decorations, handmade Christmas gifts, Christmas gift ideas, artisans
‘Morwa marble decorations’ from nkuku

I already follow many amazing makers on Instagram, so that was my first port of call. I popped on the list some lovely vintage jumpers from Calico and Twine. I love Calico and Twine because they stand for my favourite three S’s – simple, slow and sustainable.

calico and twine, vintage shopping, vintage jumper, grey jumper, sustainable shopping, rib jumper
‘Vintage grey mock neck’ from Calico and Twine

“Here at Calico and Twine, we find vintage pieces that are beautiful, useful, and well made. Vintage pieces are typically made with high quality materials such as linen and 100% cotton rather than our cheap and unsustainable material choices of today such as polyester. 

Vintage pieces can last a lifetime and are well worth the investment. Buying secondhand is one of the most sustainable choices in our consumeristic world today. Instead of sending these clothes to pollute more landfills, they are given a second chance at life”.

Here, here!

It was as I was searching for other sustainable brands that I found nkuku.

Nkuku create beautifully handmade home and lifestyle products. They work with artisans throughout the world, combining timeless design with traditional skills and natural materials. The thing I love is that you can read the stories about the artisans and find out where your product came from, where it was lovingly handcrafted and how by buying said item, (in my case Christmas gift!), you are supporting real people.

handmade gifts, christmas gifts, artisans, handmade, sustainable, shopping for Christmas, nkuku

Only problem I found was choosing what to buy – there are sooooo many beautiful gift ideas!

Don’t believe me? Check out their website and see for yourself.

nkuku, hanging planter, ceramic planter, gift ideas, handmade gifts
Love plants? ‘Matamba ceramic hanging planter’ from nkuku
candlesticks, handmade gift, Christmas gifts, candle gifts, homeland lifestyle gifts, nkuku
‘Mbata brass candlestick’ from nkuku
leather journal, handmade gift, Christmas gifts, candle gifts, homeland lifestyle gifts, nkuku
Do you have a budding writer in your family? These journals are the perfect gift
abeeko decanter, decanters, sustainable gifts, nkuku, handmade gifts, Christmas gift ideas
‘Abeeko decanter’ by nkuku
eko mini antelope head, handmade gift idea, nkuku, Christmas gifts
‘Eko mini antelope head’ by nkuku
ceramic vase, nkuku, marimba ceramic vase, gift ideas, sustainable shopping
‘Matamba ceramic vase’ by nkuku
brass frame, tiny frames, handmade frames, antique frames, nkuku
How adorable are these ‘Tiny Fanta frame antique brass’ picture frames from nkuku?
stag napkin rings, handmade gifts, Christmas gift ideas, nkuku, table accessories
‘Stag napkin rings’ by nkuku
handmade cushions, kamba bede cushion, nkuku, gift ideas, Christmas handmade
‘Kamba bede cushion’ from nkuku
crackers, Christmas crackers, blue and gold crackers, handmade gifts, nkuku
Christmas crackers

So please, this Christmas, buy better. Christmas is a time when waste is multiplied, so let’s all do our bit to help our beautiful planet whilst giving the perfect gifts.

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“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road”

November 16, 2018

road trip, USA road trip, mustang, Utah, on the road,

Planning a Road Trip

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than the secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” Jon Krakauer

I love this quote because it sums up my life perfectly.  I suffer from what my fiancé calls ‘itchy feet’. I am perfectly happy living my day-to-day routine for about 2-3 months and then something takes over and I have this incredible yearning for adventure. A yearning for new scenery, new experiences and rich possibilities. It’s usually at this point that I insist we start planning our next escape. This consists of packing our bags, hopping on a plane and picking up our new ‘horse’ for the week, otherwise known as a Mustang. (James’ one insistence for a USA drive!)

Mustang, black mustang, USA road trip, drive the USA, Colorado, Utah,

I love a road trip.  Just the open road, vast sky above and unknown adventures to come, they are just exhilarating.  I will save all year for this two-week adventure. Some people save for a new car or new clothes, but I’m perfectly happy with my beat up old Kia Picanto (yes I really do have a granny car and I don’t care) and my charity shop and eBay purchases, because it affords me this two week adventure every year. 

map, road trip map, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, road trip planning,

Our first road trip saw us driving through France, Switzerland and Austria with two friends, finally ending up at our friend’s wedding in stunning Lake Garda, Italy. 

The next year we crossed the pond to California, driving a loop from San Francisco to Los Angeles taking in some jaw-dropping scenery in Yosemite, Death Valley and the Grand Canyon along the way. 

Yosemite, Yosemite National Park, USA, Road trip, California, landscapes, travel blogger,
Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA, Road trip, road trip planning, drive the USA, open road

The third trip took us to Canada’s Rocky Mountains. We braced the cold to be rewarded with spectacular mountain views, pristine glacier lakes and gigantic forests. We even saw the odd bear. 

Canada road trip, mountain biking, Whistler, Rocky Mountains, road trips

Last year, we exhausted ourselves with outdoor pursuits in the breathtaking mountains of Colorado and hot and vast deserts of Utah. 

Telluride, Colorado, road trip, hiking, USA road trip, Colorado hiking trails
Bryce Canyon, road trip, travel, USA road trip

So you could say I’ve become a bit of an expert at this planning malarkey. Here are my top tips for planning a road trip to remember.

Do your research

If you already have a rough idea of where your road trip will take you, then it’s a good idea to read up on the locations before you start planning. Don’t just stick to factual books though, I find classic literature great for getting you inspired. In preparation for our USA road trips, I read ‘Travels with Charley” by John Steinbeck and “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac. A classic will gear up your imagination.

Decide the duration and locations

After a bit of research, you should hopefully now have an idea of the country or countries you are planning on driving through, so now it is time to identify how many days you will go for. There’s no point packing five locations into a week-long trip, as you won’t see each place properly. 

For a two-week trip, I’d recommend 4-5 locations to maximize your time in each place and not feel too rushed. I will usually start with a night at the arrival airport to refresh before the first days drive. I then mix up the number of nights we stay at each place depending on what is on offer there. Some drives between two main points in the USA can take a few days, so I will split these up with a night in a hotel along the way. Once you reach the intended place, then stay for 2/3 nights to ensure you have time for those adventures!

Mustang, white mustang, USA road trip, California road trip, open road, on the road


Define your budget

Once you have your duration and location decided, now’s the time to determine your budget. This is important because it will influence where you will stay and what activities you can do. Once your budget is set, factor in each of the following:

Accommodation type – Will you be camping, staying in budget hotels or can you splurge for a night or two? Personally, we like to save our money for the experiences – white water rafting, hiring bikes, horse-riding etc. so we always opt for basic but clean budget hotels. Camping is always a great option too. I usually just book one night at a slightly nicer hotel as a treat and something to look forward to either mid way through or at the end. 

Food – What will you set aside each day for this? I tend to budget for one meal out a day and then buy supermarket snacks to create homemade packed lunches! And if breakfast is included at your hotel, always make the most of this and eat as much as you can. I will take fruit and muffins away as well which act as an ideal mid morning snack.

Fuel – Work out the distance your route will cover, research the fuel price and do the calculations. 

Activities – This is where I’m happy to pay a bit more because I love adventure. Identify what you want to do during your trip and how much it will cost. Set this aside. Remember there are so many free activities you can do as well. I’m a huge fan of hiking which is not only free but great exercise too. 

Chamonix, mountain biking, road trips, outdoor adventures, cycling
horse riding, our, USA road trip, explore USA, mustang, cowboys

Book the hotels in advance

Now that you have your itinerary planned out, I advise booking the hotels. It gives you peace of mind that you will have somewhere to stay every night. Of course, you may be the type who would rather ‘go with the flow’ and have no idea where you will stay. That’s fine too, but being a worrier, I prefer to have a back-up plan! I use booking.com to secure each reservation, but then a month before your trip, contact each hotel directly and ask to book directly with them. The reason I do this is because booking.com allows free cancellation, so if anything happened to prevent you going on the trip (god forbid), you won’t have spent a penny on this. However, hotels will always give a better rate for direct bookings, so once I know that the trip is on 100%, I’ll contact them and switch the booking.

‘Moon’s Road Trip’ by Jamie Jensen is a good place to start researching your trip and accommodation.

Book your flights wisely

I like to get my flights booked as soon as possible because rates tend to be cheaper the earlier you do. Also, if you can try to fly out and back on either a Tuesday or Thursday and early morning or late at night it’s always cheaper! Great comparison flight sites are skyscanner and Kayak. Always shop around.

Don’t always book your activities beforehand

Leave a bit of spontaneity to the trip, you want to keep that excitement going and not knowing what you will be doing each day adds an element of adventure. Sure, if you know you want to go kayaking, then research the best places to go on your route, but there’s no need to get this booked. Weather and unexpected events can throw a curveball at pre-made plans, so just rock up and book as you go!

I’m looking forward to sharing with you a more in-depth review of each of my trips, as there is so much to share! Hopefully I’ll inspire YOU to stop spending on unnecessary things and put a bit back away each month towards an adventure. Til the next time!

wing mirror, reflections, mustang, black mustang, road trips

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Support small businesses this Christmas

November 7, 2018

independent designer, sustainable, shop local, buy better, Christmas shopping

Now the leaves have fallen, and the nights are drawing in, I’ve said a sad farewell to autumn.

Autumn has always been my favourite season for many reasons. It is still warm enough to venture on long walks in chunky jumpers, but with coats left behind. Halloween brings with it childhood memories of fancy dress and spooky games and Bonfire Night offers up an evening huddled around the fire cooking marshmallows, whilst watching the sky light up in multi colours. It is certainly a Lagom season.

Then I blink, and Winter has arrived! I can no longer leave the house without an umbrella. The rain lashes down daily and the wind arrives in full force (taking my fence panels with it!). The only thing I seem to be able to do comfortably is stay indoors.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, because winter does bring with it my favourite day of the year – Christmas of course! 

Cosy fire, slipper socks, winter, hot tea, time for reading, autumn feels

Now we have officially stepped into winter, I am allowed to start getting excited about the festive season, which means I can chuck on the Christmas movies, get the cinnamon candles out and start eating mince pies again!

It is also the time to start thinking about presents – not what I would like, but what to buy my loved ones. This year I have made changes, which I intend to stick by at Christmas and I hope to inspire you to do the same. This year I’m going to get all my gifts from small, sustainable businesses and I encourage you all to do the same.

So here are some tips to have a Green and a Great Christmas by bringing joy to your loved ones and at the same time, making another real person do a little dance around too!

Buy local or from independent makers

independent maker, independent designer, shop local. buy better, Christmas shopping

Buying from large companies and high street brands is very tempting, because we think it is easy. You can go online or to one shopping centre and blitz the entire list in one day. But by doing this you are not only lining the pockets of already stupidly rich people, but you could be buying bad quality and therefore creating more waste. Not only that, but you could be wasting your own money on something your loved one might not even need, because the process of buying is quick, and we don’t necessarily put as much thought into the present. 

This year why not venture down to your local high street and wander into the boutique shops. Yes, the prices are a little higher, there is no denying that, these people have to compete with the corporate brands who are able to keep prices low because they use cheap labour and low-quality products. But by spending a little bit more, your gift is likely to last a lot longer therefore creating less waste. It will be unique, so your loved one will appreciate it more and you are also supporting a real person who has probably put their heart and soul into that creation. That sale will really make their day.

Buy less and buy better. 

Buy less buy better, sustainable shopping, less waste, shop smart, Christmas shopping

When I was younger, my sisters and I would get one main present under the tree and a stocking (well mum’s cut-off tights!) filled with wonderful things. The stocking would be a combination of exciting toys, sweet treats and useful items. It was not completely filled with tat that as a 6-year-old I would get excited by for one day and then discard. I might get a new toothbrush or some lovely bath bombs among the Loony toons Pez or slinky spring. This was incredibly clever of my mum (and maybe my way of thinking began at a much younger age than I realise because of this), because by doing this she ensured we got some lovely presents to enjoy in the form of a couple of toys, but that we also got things that were useful and needed. 

Christmas gifts, Christmas shopping guide, buy better, sustainable living, sustainable design

The main present under the tree was then something we REALLY wanted, a cuddly toy we had seen, a baby doll (in my sister’s case) or a Scalextric (in my case!). Okay, this isn’t a ‘need’ but the point is, it was ONE present and we were so completely happy to get the very thing that we had been looking forward to, that we didn’t need anything else.

I know it’s a lot harder these days with children. I know some children who receive more than ten presents on Christmas day, but most of these are not appreciated and I bet half of them will be quietly disposed of less than a year later. So, what I am trying to say is Buy Less but Buy Better. One quality present is worth much more than ten low quality presents. Or if that won’t go down too well in your house (I don’t have children so I’m not going to be one to preach), then buy several presents but make sure the majority of these are useful or needed too.

Look out for local markets or sales happening in your area

art and wine sale, Yapp brothers, Laura Rich, art, Christmas markets

Around this time of year, the creative community will usually hold a Christmas market or sale. This can be the ideal time to buy art, hand-made goods and food too!

Look in the local papers and join local Facebook groups to see what is happening and go with your Christmas shopping hat on.

In my home town in November, artist Laura Rich realised that the famous wine merchants across the road were having a sale, so she got all the creatives and sellers along the street to join up to create a Wine and Art sale! Now that’s my kind of event! An ideal opportunity to buy Christmas gifts and get your wine for the festive season at the same time.

Shop online wisely

How many of you type in Amazon as an impulse when you open your computer to shop? I’m guessing a large majority of you! Well, here’s a few online sites to check out who sell independent designers and makers. Again, make a real person happy and shop the niche and wonderful products on offer on these sites.

Trouva – for the Independents

Shop the best independent boutiques for homewares, gifts, accessories and clothing all in one place. Can’t get much easier than that!

Trouva, Christmas gifts, sustainable shopping, independent makers

Not on the High Street

The home of thoughtful gifts. Made by creatives, from the UK’s best small businesses. Shop here.

Not on the high street, Christmas shopping, gifts, local makers

Etsy

If it’s handcrafted, vintage, custom or unique, it’s on Etsy.

Etsy, vintage gifts, custom made gifts, handmade, handcrafted

Buy an experience!

Light and Land, photography workshop, photography hobby, shop local

Rather than buy a product or a physical gift, why not buy your loved one an experience. I love this idea because not only does it reduce waste, but it creates experiences and memories, which you know I am an advocate of. 

Do they love relaxing? Then treat them to a spa day or a cream tea afternoon.

Do they have a hobby such as photography? Book them onto a photography workshop.

Do they love car racing or football? Book them a day at the racetrack or do a stadium tour of their favourite club.

The opportunities are endless. Collect moments not things.

Get personal

You know that episode of Friends where Monica and Chandler have to make each other their Valentine gifts? Then you get the jist…

This one is great for the sentimentalists among us, but also if you are saving or short on cash. Why not set a limit this year on budget and make a gift instead? This is my favourite type of gift, because I’m soppy and love a present that a lot of thought has gone into. Ideas include:

Create a photo album of all your special memories together.

Design a book telling that person all the wonderful things you love about them.

Create a photo slideshow of a special time you had together and put it to music.

Give them a book of vouchers for your time – ideas include ‘babysitter for the night’, ‘cook for the night’, ‘foot massage’, ‘dinner and drinks on me’.

Christmas markets, Christmas time, Christmas gifts, shop better, buy better

It’s a time for giving

What we need to remember is that Christmas isn’t about gifts, it’s about loved ones and community. 

It’s a time to show people you care, a time to laugh, a time to be thoughtful and a time to look at the good things in life and appreciate them.

For those who are not as fortunate as us, who don’t have family or friends to surround themselves with, this time of year can be particularly hard. Maybe you have a spare seat at the dinner table and could offer it to a lonely person?

That would be the greatest gift of all.

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When I was 18 I wanted to be a fashion photographer…

October 24, 2018

fashion photography, Bournemouth arts university, vintage photography, sixties fashion

There’s a line in the Baz Luhrmann song ‘Sunscreen’ that goes, “Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life… the most interesting people I know didn’t know at twenty-two what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting forty year olds I know still don’t”.

This really resonates with me today.

I spend quite a bit of time thinking, researching and thinking some more about the topics and stories to feature on this blog. It can be really tricky to make sure content is interesting, appeals to my audience, but most of all that it inspires.

I want to inspire.

Yosemite, light through the trees, Visit USA, Yosemite photography
‘See the light through the trees’ Yosemite, USA 2014
monument valley, road trip, USA road trip
Monument valley 2018

This week, I have decided to share the ‘real’ me, because for those of you who know me, I am a bit of a closed book. This isn’t intentional, I’m just not a great conversationalist I suppose, but I do actually want others to know what makes me tick.

This post is about my journey, my struggles, my joys and what goes through my mind on a weekly basis. I am thirty-four and can now finally appreciate the lyrics of ‘sunscreen’!

Yosemite, USA. Me. 2014

Being a creative person is amazing, but it can also be a constant rollercoaster of emotions. Looking back over the past year, I have come up with five ideas for new ventures I’d like to grow and began planning and building two of these in my spare time.

This sounds great, but in reality trying to do too much has its downfalls, particularly when sticking to one thing is not my strong point and carrying one idea through to completion is even harder. I will get several months into a new project, almost ready to launch then WHAM! I go to bed and my brain pixies start working their magic, planting new inventions for me to dabble with and the previous project is deserted.

New Forest, New Forest photography,  Nature photography
Never stop exploring, even on your own doorstep

I had to congratulate myself a teeny bit when I finally got around to launching Green and the Great. This blog is the culmination of four business ideas I had been beavering away at for the last year.

  1. The first was going to be sourcebook for artists, designers and independent makers to sell their work.
  2. The second idea was an interior design and styling agency. 
  3. The third and maybe the one I got most excited about was a unique escapes directory, discovering awesome places in the UK for quirky stays.
  4.  The fourth was a place to share my love for slow living and ethically sourced products.

After deciding I couldn’t do all four independently, I pulled them together and created Green and the Great. And I’m loving it!

Writing for me is like emptying my mind and sharing my ambitions, ideas and inspiration with others. It has become really enjoyable too. Instagram continues to inspire me daily and I have a renewed love for photography after a few years of neglect.

Which kind of brings me to where we started – the big question ‘what did and what do I want to do with my life?’ 

When I was eighteen I wanted to be a fashion photographer. The piles of Vogue magazine still scattered around my house is evidence of the obsession I had with this. I hadn’t really ‘found myself’ yet and was awed by the glamour and lifestyle in the glossy pages.

fashion photography, mods, the who, sixties photography
One from my ‘Mods’ project

However, at twenty-two and after three years studying fashion photography at Arts University Bournemouth, I realised I hated the city and couldn’t bear to live in London. I ignored my heart for so long because I thought the path I had chosen was the only one and if I changed my mind then in a way I would be failing. At twenty-two I didn’t believe failure was an option.

So, I plodded along really. I moved back to the countryside (so pleased I did!) dabbling in wedding photography, studio photography and odd jobs. I had no idea what I was doing with my life.

Seriously, I was a bit lost.

Mountain photography, sunset, outdoor photography, travel blogger

It has only been in the last seven years, after meeting my fiancé, travelling and doing the things I love, that I can now identify what makes me happy.  These are:

Nature and the outdoors

Exercising, hiking, running, walking

Adventure and road trips

Being in the mountains

Cabins

Appreciating time on my own

Photography – outdoors is my new favourite!

Writing and reading

Chamonix, Chamonix photography, hiking, outdoor adventures
Hiking in Chamonix
Monument Valley, engagement, landscape photography
Road tripping in Utah, Arizona and Colorado 2018

I’m also comfortable knowing that I may have all these great ideas swimming around in my head, but it’s okay not to follow them all through. Or that it’s okay to have started something and then to switch directions half way through if you need to.

I’m not a famous fashion photographer but I don’t think I failed, I’m happy now and in my eyes that’s what success is all about.

This morning I woke feeling excited – I had another great plan in the early hours for a new venture – one that I am super excited about and includes mountains AND cabins! Watch this space…!!!

Bobble hat, skiing, self portrait, France skiing
I’ve discovered skiing too!
Finding someone who loves what you love is key

All images my own.

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