Kefalonia sunset

Today is my blog’s 3rd birthday! And even though I’ve been neglecting it a bit recently, I felt it was only right to mark the occasion. So – not that I want to be predictable or anything – here are some photos of a sunset.

A Kefalonian sunset, to be precise, because I just got back from a week there to celebrate my friend’s lovely wedding. (I know, I know, the things I do for my friends…) I took many photos during the week, because it’s a ridiculously beautiful place, and there will be more posts on the way, so brace yourselves.

But here for now are a few of my favourite shots, taken on an evening stroll along the beach next to my hotel. I was the only person there, so I could have fun pretending to be a real photographer and taking loads of photos, each of them very slightly different as the sun crept closer to the horizon.

Happy Monday 🙂

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Photo Sunday: Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you’ve had a fantastic couple of days, wherever and however you spent them. I’ve been with my family, eating, drinking and generally chilling out, which was what I needed after the last-minute Christmas panic. Note to self: next year, try and start the shopping more than a week before…

The festivities began on Thursday at work, when one of my colleagues produced Christmas dinner for us all in our tiny office kitchen. (Yes, she is amazing.) And then continued at my parents’ on Friday, after another delicious Christmas lunch, with miniature bell ringing, racing penguins, the world’s most complicated board game and general family mayhem. Because being a grown-up is extremely boring, and to be avoided whenever possible.

And today I’m back home, eating Christmas leftovers, trying to figure out what day it is (Sunday? Monday? I have no idea), recovering from the trauma of going shopping earlier and enjoying the fact that I don’t have to go back to work till Tuesday.

Now bring on New Year and all the photo opportunities that 2016 has to offer… 🙂

Guest post: Inspiredtravels71

Today I’m really excited to share a guest post from Sarah, a good friend of mine. Sarah’s recently launched a fantastic project called Inspiredtravels71. It’s an idea I’m proud to support and it would be great to get more people involved 🙂

Hi, I’m Sarah, a 40 something from Kent, England.

Back in March this year I finished reading Rachael Chadwick’s book 60 Postcards whilst on a touring holiday in Spain. I could really relate to her grief, it’s one of the only books I’ve read which had me shed a tear.

Although my situation is very different, I could relate to it as my Mum, Anne, had a major stroke 9 years ago. Although we are lucky enough to still have her with us, she is severely disabled, needs everything to be done for her, and has completely lost her independence. That is just not my Mum!

Prior to her illness she was extremely active, always out and about and the life and soul of any party. That few seconds back in October 2007 cruelly swiped the ability for that life away and left her with a body unable to function in most normal ways, exhausted with fatigue and at times unable to clearly remember or register what’s going on around her. So although I am lucky that she is still here, I grieve for my mum the way she was.

Mum & I celebrating her 60th birthday, before her stroke.
As requested when starting the book I purchased a postcard, this was done in Barcelona, my favorite European city. Once I’d finished the book, I had a burning desire to use it to do something to help improve things for my Mum. To help to fulfill her want to travel, which post stroke is very difficult, and to brighten the routine in her day. So the planning started…

I decided that it would be fun to start a similar project to Rachael’s by hiding postcards for people to find. I scribbled out a brief message which changed several times and then set up an email address dedicated to this project (inspiredtravels71@gmail.com). In the message I asked the ‘finder’ to give their recommendations of places I could visit and talk to my Mum about. Once I had refined the message, I wrote out my first postcard.

Preparing cards, ready for hiding.
When we headed out on the next day of our tour, I took my postcard with me, and decided to hide it when we stopped for lunch. We were on a day trip in the Pyrenees and stopped at a cafe bar in Font Romeu for lunch. I decided on my hiding place and carefully left the postcard, feeling like a criminal. I’m not sure that you can be arrested for hiding a postcard but I felt like I would be. Shortly afterwards I left the cafe feeling very pleased with myself and bought another postcard in preparation of my next hide.

In June this year I started to feel brave enough to talk to people about my project. I have been overwhelmed by the response I have received. Everyone is extremely enthusiastic about the idea, and I’ve had offers of help from donations of postcards for me to use, to people wanting to write and hide cards for me. I’ve currently got friends travelling around Europe buying and hiding cards for me, as well as taking cards back to Australia to hide there for me too. Since going public around 90 postcards have been hidden at various locations around the world.

When I say hidden, it can be anywhere from your local shopping centre, a day out here in the UK somewhere local to you – Dungeness, Windsor Castle, Bath, Stone Henge and at the theatre in Dartford and London are a few examples of day trip hides – a restaurant you eat in or if you are going overseas, there too. Don’t think that just because you don’t have a big overseas holiday booked you can’t get involved and join in the fun, because you can, I’m waiting to hear from you…

a postcard ready for hiding
Each week is bringing new discussions and the opportunity to interact with new people. I’m having fun, enjoying sharing tales of how the project is evolving with both my parents and enthused by the offers of help I am getting.

Just last week I heard from my first finder, I can’t explain how exciting that was. All I know at this stage is his first name and where he found the card. I was elated to hear from him and have emailed back for more information. Although it felt like an eternity, it was less than 6 months between going public and hearing from my first finder. Considering that the cards are being hidden far and wide, I think that’s really quick! I’m having great fun and have got interesting conversations to have with my beloved Mum each week.

If you want to hear more or join in the fun, please contact me on Twitter (@travelinsp) or via my email address above to find out more.

You can also follow my blog at inspiredtravels71.wordpress.com.

Come and join in the fun, you know you want to…😉

Photo Sunday: Sark

I’m just back from a long weekend visiting my friend in Guernsey – my third trip to the island, but my first with my new camera. (Cue a lot of my friend standing around waiting for me, while I did my best tourist impression.) Unsurprisingly, I took a lot of photos – so many, in fact, that I’m going to spread them over a few blog posts.

Let’s start with our first day, Friday, when we went to one of the neighbouring islands, Sark. Fortunately, this was also the best weather day of the weekend, so we could see the amazing views in all their glory. And we didn’t freeze (or drown) on the ferry from Guernsey.

A few highlights:

La Coupée

A narrow, winding path that connects Sark to Little Sark, boasting some absolutely incredible views. Crossing it in daylight is one thing, but I wouldn’t want to try it at night; Sark is a dark sky island and has no public street lights, so my friend had some fun imagining the perilous journey home from the pub for Little Sark residents. Rather them than me…

Cream tea

Cream tea is a big deal on Sark, so much so that they’ve currently got a competition to find the island’s best. Sadly we were only there for a few hours, so we didn’t have time to sample them all – but we did enjoy a very nice cream tea at the very lovely La Sabonnerie hotel on Little Sark.

Window in the Rock

This is basically what it says on the tin – a window in the rock, framing a stunning view, and just inches from a sheer drop; I think I enjoyed it more than my friend, who’s not fond of heights. (I also couldn’t go as close to the edge as I wanted to, thanks to a semi-hysterical woman who seemed convinced we’d all die if I did.)

I’m not sure I’d want to live on Sark – it’s a bit too remote – but I did love it there, and would definitely go back, if only to sample some more of their cream tea. I also think it would make a great location for a winter writing retreat…

PS Technically the sunset photos are on the return journey and then back in Guernsey, but come on – I was hardly going to leave them out, was I?

Photo Sunday: Caribbean memories

The other day, I was sorting through old photos, and came across the albums from a 2007 holiday with three of my best friends on the Caribbean island of St Kitts. Had I been blogging back then, there would have been many, many posts about it, because, to this day, it’s one of my favourite holidays. Everything about it was perfect, from the stunning sunsets to our gorgeous villa (which was a bargain because my friend knew the owner), the friendly people to the fantastic weather, not to mention our awesome little car, Pedro, who was very old and not very good at getting up hills…

There was the amazing infinity pool, where my friend tried and failed to teach me how to swim. And the day we went horse riding, and I got the lively one (obviously). The beautiful beach that everyone claimed to have been to, and yet was empty every time we went back. That was the holiday when I discovered rum. (Mmm, rum…) And did I mention the sunsets?

So here’s a selection of my photos from that holiday. I hope to go back one day and take many more. And then blog about it. You have been warned…