Eating and drinking my way through life and learning all the while

Musings on the move

So I survived an earthquake in Mexico City

This year has been a weird one, full of new experiences- but one I wasn’t expecting and was thoroughly unprepared for was to survive an earthquake in Mexico City.  I mean I should have been. September is earthquake season in Mexico and a friend of mine had recanted this experience of the earthquake siren going off when he was in Mexico City and what to do etc. I remember thinking I should probably remember that sound. But I was staying in a neighbourhood that had sirens blaring all the time and after living in the centre of Madrid and staying in NYC/London a lot – I’ve learned to block out sirens. But that night the noise was building outside yet it was the door buzzer going late at night that first alerted me to the fact something was happening. I heard the buzzer and then the sirens outside and then a big freaking bang and thought ‘oh shit’. Then the whole apartment started shaking. I jumped out of bed and tried to remember what I was supposed to do in the event of an earthquake. What had Trevor from Nomadic Backpacker told me again? Whatever it was I was pretty sure it wasn’t stay in an 8th story flat where all the glass doors to the balcony had poured open and refused to shut while the rain lashed in. I could barely stay on my feet.  I thought I’d put a bra on and head outside. Turns out trying to do that is tricky when you can’t stand up properly. It was pretty incredible to witness the way the place swayed so viciously, I momentarily thought about capturing a pic or video for posterity but realised that was a dickish thing to do and instead I grabbed a bottle of

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So I did an erotica shoot and why I think you should too!

So I did an erotica shoot, and why I think you should too! I’ve been umming and ahhing about whether to share this story or not, but fuck it.  I did an erotica shoot, boudoir shoot, whatever you want to call it and it felt good, liberating and I’m super proud of the pictures that came out of it. I didn’t plan to do this. I actually started looking for some new business profile pictures as the old ones didn’t look like me any more. But as I hate having my picture taken I was looking for someone who could ease me into the shoot and find the bit of me that’s photogenic and make the experience less painful and awkward. While looking through some recommendations I received, I stumbled across a photographer who specialised in female portraiture and I found myself more interested in the boudoir side of things than the business branding. I started looking into this more and many erotica or boudoir photographers tend to pride themselves on incredible makeovers. This may sound egotistical but I wasn’t looking for a massive makeover, I wanted to capture a moment in time, when for the first time in a long time I felt objectively hot! I wanted to take some pictures for my own sake not to satisfy the male gaze and use them as my own fitspiration. I’d gotten fit by accident – lockdown, curfew and large stretches of time away from home solo – meant plenty of time to exercise, sleep well and look after myself – and the results showed. Before I descended back into the usual routine of work and play and potentially lose all my good habits – I wanted remember what my body can look like when I take care of myself and

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Casa Biulú Zipolite

Casa Biulú in Zipolite is the perfect spot for the digital nomad wanting to get some work done in beautiful surroundings. Located just a five

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Selva Oaxaca Cocktail Bar

The best cocktail bar in Oaxaca. This 1920s art-deco styled venue magics up gloriously well-crafted cocktails using produce local to Oaxaca and serves them up

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All About Granada

So I survived an earthquake in Mexico City

This year has been a weird one, full of new experiences- but one I wasn’t expecting and was thoroughly unprepared for was to survive an earthquake in Mexico City.  I mean I should have been. September is earthquake season in Mexico and a friend of mine had recanted this experience of the earthquake siren going off when he was in Mexico City and what to do etc. I remember thinking I should probably remember that sound. But I was staying in a neighbourhood that had

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Luggage outside a doorway in Madrid

Happy to be back in Madrid, for a bit…

I arrived back in Madrid, Spain last weekend after four long months away. I’ve collected a lot of stories on my travels and have a ton of half written posts and notes to complete and publish over the coming months that will fill in the gaps of my adventures. But for now I’m revelling in being back in Spain, reunited with my husband and rediscovering Madrid for the third time! Madrid is pretty much how I left it – just without the 30cm of snow!

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Travelling fast and slow

Travelling today seems to be simultaneously fast and slow due to COVID-19 requiring rapid change of plans and jumping on planes with 24 hours notice while I still can and spending much longer away from home in any one stretch than I usually would pre-COVID. My uncle and cousin were teasing me yesterday, saying my 12 year marriage is effectively counted in dog years, and would be probably only be the equivalent of 5 years with any normal couple if you count the time actually

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5 top tips for surviving quarantine without going insane

I joined a travel chat #TTOT on Twitter for the first time this week and one of the questions was around travelling during COVID-19. I agreed with all the advice re travelling respectfully, listening to local mandates re quarantine, social distancing, curfews and wearing masks. But as someone who has spent 5 months of last year on the road as I couldn’t get home – I also have some real world advice on what has helped me survive the various lockdowns (x2), quarantines (x2), self-isolations

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Déjà vu – quarantined in the Caribbean take 2 – this time I’m prepared!

I have a real feeling of déjà vu as I embark on a 14-day quarantine in the Caribbean. At least this time I am better prepared! It was almost a year ago when the world stopped spinning and I sat in a London hotel readjusting plans at pace – as I could not travel to New York and didn’t want to travel back to the European epicentre in Spain. I ended up detouring to the Caribbean and started the global lockdown quarantining in Antigua where

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Living in a confined city during COVID-19 isn’t as bad as you’d think

The City of Madrid has been confined over Christmas with residents not able to leave or enter without good reason. This city perimeter confinement has now been lifted – although in certain areas movement is restricted to one’s neighbourhood. But you know what, living in a confined city during COVID-19 isn’t as bad as you’d think. When I was on the road last year, I was told that each city/country has now shown their hand in terms of how they are going to deal with

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Snowman wearing a face mask in Madrid

Historic snowfall in Madrid brings out the big kid in everyone

I woke up this morning to at least 15 inches of snow on my terrace and opening my front door to go out – I was hit with blizzard like conditions. Storm Philomena has brought Madrid the heaviest snow it’s seen in 40 years, and this historic snowfall brings out the big kid in everyone – especially my husband and I! Walking down my road in Malasaña, just a street back from Gran Via – the damage from last night’s snowstorm is clear – trees are

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2020 year in review + Survivor’s guilt!

This is, I guess, my 2020 year in review. I’ve made it through to the end of the year, and I’m feeling pretty thankfully to have survived both personally and professionally after a rollercoaster of a year. I’ve ended up back in Madrid with my husband, in what seems like one of the last places on earth you can still go to a bar, a gig, a gallery, even the theatre. But as proud as I am to have survived the year, and watched my

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Excited to finally be flying home to Madrid!

Due to COVID-19 I moved to Madrid three months later than planned at the end of June, and was only there a month before a three-week trip to the U.K. became 5 months on the road where I ending up riding my luck to avoid lockdowns. The confinement of the city of Madrid was lifted a few days ago and today after a fairly convoluted route home via Mexico and New York, I’m finally flying home to Madrid, I’m excited to see my husband, to start/restart

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Zipolite – a chilled, travellers’ paradise

I’m leaving Zipolite feeling refreshed, energised and ballsy. I was a little nervous about coming here after discovering it is most famous for its nudist beach, one of Mexico’s only. But boy I’m glad I did, Zipolite is a chilled, travellers’ paradise and was just what the doctor ordered. I had no desire to go to Tulum or wherever American’s hang out en masse. I wanted some beach action in Mexico that felt a bit more real and authentically Mexican. While admittedly the vibe here is

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Life lessons and learning to surf in Zipolite

So as I somehow landed in Zipolite, a nudist, surfer beach and had braved getting naked, I figured I should give surfing a shot too. Bearing in mind I have little in the way of hand eye coordination this was going to be a challenge, although I do have something in the way of balance – if being able to trip over and keep a tray of drinks alive counts! I was told to go to the surf school in front of Hotel Nude. It’s

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I accidentally headed to a nudist beach in Mexico

I’m headed to a nudist beach in Mexico! Like much of my travels this year, this was certainly not the plan. I ended up in Oaxaca and wanted a few days by the sea, Since getting stuck in Antigua I had gotten a taste for swimming in the sea and running to the beach each day sounded way healthier than what I was doing in London -eating my body weight in chocolate and crumpets. Oaxaca City is a whole lot further away from the beach

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Woman offering a tasting of local produce at Mercado 20 de Noviembre, Oaxaca

An incredible Mezcal filled trip to Oaxaca

So, I’ve serendipitously ended up in Oaxaca, pronounced Wa ha ka – I am pinching myself a bit as I don’t think I could have picked a better forced detour if I tried. Oaxaca for many drinks geeks, like myself, is on the bucket list of drinks pilgrimages and for a reason, it’s the spiritual home of Mezcal and it is incredible! The first night I go to the one and only bar I have on my list Selva. I’m assured it makes damn fine

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17 years ago

It’s been 17 years since I was woken up and told it’s time, it was happening, my mum was dying. We knew it was close – I’d fallen asleep the night before hugging mum and was gently woken up in the early hours, almost peeled from her side and led to my sister’s old bedroom to get some rest. After months of nursing mum from home we were almost zombies. And the wonderful Macmillan nurses came to help overnight, one of us needed to stay

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Happiness in a COVID-19 induced long distance relationship

My husband is happy – that’s all you really want in a marriage, for your partner to be happy. You do what you can to help make them happy. Love and support them all you want but ultimately after a while you realise that you alone can’t make them happy. But right now my husband is happy. And I’m happy, he’s happy. Of course, I know he’d be happier if we were able to be together right now and that he misses me like crazy, but

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Suitcase in front of Venice train station with views of the Canal

Six good things about traveling solo

I’m going to talk about the good parts of travelling solo, but before I get into that I’ll say it isn’t always easy. I’ve long prided myself on my ability to travel independently, either plan a route or sometimes just land somewhere and figure things out and always find some fun on the road. But up until this year, my travelling was mostly intermittent- a few days, weeks, a month or so here or there before boomeranging home to recharge and refresh and go back

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Glimpse of The Royal Castle Warsaw

An unexpected 20 Hours in Warsaw

Due to the Russian roulette of the UK Travel Corridor Green List I found myself unexpectedly making a stopover in Warsaw last month. Flexibility seems to be the name of the game for travel during COVID-19. I’d gone to Slovenia via Venice for work and was keen to stick to green countries on the way back and avoid crappy airlines like Wizz or Ryanair. So I ended up with a 20 hour layover in Warsaw. Poland has never really been on my travel hit list

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Inside a pub in Muswell Hill

Things could be worse

Just had a wander down memory Lane, past my old flat in London. And whilst life certainly ain’t all rosey right now, it gave me pause for thought about how much tougher life might have been had I not decided to pack up and leave almost two years ago. Things could be worse… I can’t imagine how depressing lockdown would have been stuck inside my old one bed flat in North London, with no outdoor space. Admittedly, it would have meant I spent lock down

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Sunset from rooftops in Malasana, Madrid

Living in a red country sucks

I’ve woken up this morning with a real wave of despair about the state of the universe, the reality dawning on me I won’t be going home anytime soon and plans to see my husband are just a pipe dream. When I moved to Madrid back in June I was full of optimism, I seemed to have missed the worst of lock down from my Caribbean bubble and returned to Spain when lockdown ended, completing our move from Granada to Madrid just three months later

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Rowing boat by the bank of Lake Bled

Lake Bled, Slovenia – a relaxing respite from the madness

A remarkably relaxing break in Lake Bled, Slovenia during COVID-19. Where stay, what to do and how to get there.

Lake Bled is a stunning glacial lake about an hour north of Ljubljana. It is seriously photogenic from every angle, but more than that is it remarkably relaxing and peaceful – just what the doctor ordered.

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STA Travel literally changed the course of my life for good

I’m lamenting the loss of STA Travel which this week has stopped trading due to the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry. STA Travel literally changed the course of my life. Those InterRail tickets I bought just after graduation that saw us take a few months off to explore Europe after a shitty year were transformational. InterRailing is ace. We booked a 2 month pass that allowed us unlimited train travel in two countries of our choosing. STA Travel was where you went

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London City skyline from Bethnal Green, views of The Shard, Gherkin etc

Travelling during COVID – Riding my luck to dodge lockdowns

Travel right now is undoubtedly harder than ever and for good reason there is a global pandemic. I’m going to try and explain – note not justify – why I’m still moving around, albeit slower and more socially distanced than ever. And why in the midst of all this craziness it can actually still be fun and maybe more of an adventure than ever. But it certainly isn’t for everyone

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Lee now and then

21 years since that night

It’s been 21 years since that night. Not the first night we met, to be honest I don’t remember that. 21 years since the night I first knew your name, before that you were just the grumpy chef who banned me from the kitchen. That night my mum was out of town, and my brother and I had the place to ourselves. I think it was Mikey that started all of this, after work in the restaurant we’d all gone out and as 2am came

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Bath Abbey

Fuck society’s expectations

I have just had a coffee with an old school friend sat in the rain in front of Bath Abbey and we both chatted through what’s happened to each other in the past 18 years and put the world to rights. It felt good. I left feeling pumped about our life choices and decisions we’ve both made to live life on our own terms not the timeline society tells us we should. This girl gave up a sensible job to go work with lions and

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Girl running down hill with dog in Bath

Where are you from? Where is home?

Where are you from? A simple question but one I’ve always struggled to answer. I’ve lived in a bunch of places and they have all left a mark on my life in some way.  Depending on who is asking, sometimes the UK is enough of an answer, other times I may say London, or Manchester. But in terms of where I consider home, I guess apart from Madrid where I now live, I’d have to say Bath. Bath is not the place I was born, or

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Hotel Noir, Paris duplex suite with private terrace

Sod a pillow menu, the real luxury for hotel rooms is private outdoor space

Hotel search engines are missing a trick. I don’t know why you can’t search for hotel rooms that come with their own private outdoor space.,, you are all missing a trick. Right now when communal space at hotels is limited or restricted, having private outdoor space as part of your own room is a real plus, so why is it so hard to search for it? When travelling via NYC mid-pandemic I wasn’t sure how open the city was, how many of

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Rock bars are cleaner than I remember pre-COVID-19

This is a month of lots of post COVID firsts. Last night, we went to the first jam session in Madrid post lock down and it was good, great in fact. It was at Sala RockVille near the Bernanéu stadium in the northern part of Madrid – a great spacious venue all set up for a socially distanced jam. Smaller venues I imagine may struggle more in these times. Proper precautions are being taken, temperature checks on arrival – not sure I’ll ever not flinch

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What Travel Has Taught Me: Antigua

Travel teaches you things. About yourself, the world, other people. Having had a lot of time during this crisis to reflect fondly on previous travel adventures, I’ve been thinking a lot about what travelling to a specific place has taught me or how it’s changed me or my views on things. So this will be a new series that looks at what travel has taught me, I’m starting with Antigua, where I recently spent 3 months during quarantine. I’ve visited Antigua several times, first for

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Fun cocktail runs in NYC during lock down

When I told people I was travelling back home via the U.S. people thought I was crazy and my family were concerned. Are there no safer routes out? They asked.  As anyone who was following my late night twitter ramblings during my quarantine in the Caribbean can attest, it’s fair to say I did explore every conceivable option. At one point, this included a journey starting with stowing away on a fishing boat to a neighbouring French island and travelling back via Paris, until I

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Happy Days – Live music returns to Madrid

It’s our second weekend in Madrid, 3 weeks since the state of emergency ended here and the city seems to be springing back to life. As it is Friday, we sit at the bar at Dry Bar 1862 – for a post work cocktail. It’s going to be my new regular haunt I think given how close it is to my office, the tastiness of the drinks and how nice the guys are here. We enjoy our drinks and are given tasters of some pretty

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It’s not always a bad thing when you take after your parents

So, every once in a while you realise you have more in common with your parents than you think. My Dad came to visit this weekend and it became abundantly clear I take after him in a number of ways. The way I walk I always thought my mum had influenced the way I walk. I was told to never look lost, or vulnerable, don’t be that girl who walks barefoot with her shoes in her hands at the end of the night and looks

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The path in Retiro Park

2020 Goals – Progress Report

I started the year with goals and ambitious plans. 2020 has zero respect for plans. But having just clocked up 200 miles of running so far this year, I was curious to see how far off track 2020 has been for me. To recap, my previously declared 2020 goals: 2020 Goals• Complete wine region research trips on 3 different continents • Reach C2 Level in Spanish • Run 730 miles • Sleep 2,550+ hoursAnd continue taking time to watch sunset one of my favourite habits from 2019. And

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How I loved the world’s 1st socially-distanced opera in Madrid.

So, last night we went to our first Opera in Madrid. Quite possibly, the world’s first socially distanced opera in the world. Verdi’s La Traviata at Teatro Real in Madrid. I was inspired to go after seeing this tweet from @AnnieBennett – I feel for all the musicians that have not been able to make a single Euro during lock down and wanted to celebrate living once again in a cultural capital for our first proper weekend since moving to Madrid. I won’t try and

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Two cocktails at Savas bar Lavapies, Madrid

Am I the asshole again for heading back to bars in Madrid as they reopen?

Watching the reports of pubs reopening in the UK and having seen reports of bars reopening in the U.S. and hastily needed to shut down again due to spikes – there is a narrative that anyone who wants to go out to enjoy a drink right now is an asshole. I’ll again caveat this post with the fact that Spain is in a very different phase of the COVID19 journey than much of the world. The shut down here was long, strict and brutal. The

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Boating Lake in the El Retiro Park Madrid

I’m loving running in the Retiro

Part of the dream of living in Madrid was being able to run in the Retiro each morning, and today I did my first run there since I moved here on Sunday. The Retiro Park is a big beautiful park in the heart of the city, at its centre is a boating lake. I remember going boating there with my little cousins when we stopped in Madrid as part of our backpacking trip for our honeymoon. We met up with one of my cousin’s from

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I work remotely, so why do I crave an office?

One of the beauties of working remotely should be the idea to work from anywhere. So why do I crave/need an office? When I first started working remotely, I was happy to work from any terrace I could find with decent WiFi. Working outdoors was the dream. And I flitted from my little patio in our first pad in Granada only moving to the stunning terrace at my language school or a local tapas bar when my husband was using up the bandwidth of the

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You look fab! The long journey to becoming fit and healthy

Yesterday, I got sent a random message from a girlfriend of mine saying I looked great. Apropos of nothing but maybe my IG feed I’m back to updating and where I post my running diary on my stories. This is someone who has known me for 7 or so years, she said I looked super fab and healthy and it was such a transformation from when I was working at my last job. So, what’s changed? And was the old job to blame? THE WAKE

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Views from a terrace in Malasana

Excited to move to Malasaña, Madrid

I’ve done it, having picked up my keys last Monday, today I moved to Madrid. I found a man with a van – Colin –originally from just outside of Edinburgh and did the 5-hour van ride to Madrid. We’re bang in the centre of Madrid, just above a Gay bar and witnessed ladies of the night, or day I guess, fighting over their turf on our doorstep as we unloaded. I’m excited to unpack, bamboozled as to how we’ve accumulated so much stuff in just

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Sunset from the Albaicyn

This apartment in Granada is probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived.

Tomorrow I’m moving out of the most beautiful flat I’ve ever lived. I chose this place solo when my husband was back in the UK for a few months. We had spent 5 months tried to sort out temporary residency in Spain as part of our ExitBeforeBrexit plan and kept coming a-cropper with bureaucracy as the Airbnb we first moved to and later extended into a long stay didn’t actually officially exist and so we couldn’t get empadronamiento. After successive forms, inspections, pleading, attempting to

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Tú eres morena! Life in post lock down Granada

Returning to Granada, roaming the Albaycín and once again frequenting the tapas bars I used to before COVID-19 struck, I received the same statement everywhere I went. Bienvenido familia. Welcome back family. !Tú eres morena! Wow, you are brown! A confused statement. I know what they meant, how on earth are you so tanned? Were you one of the lucky ones that had access to a terrace or garden during lock down? And then further confusion, when noticing the colour of my husband. He’s white.

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Feeling the need to write again. Back to blogging

It feels like the past few months, well years, we’ve been living through a moment in history. The world is changing around us and life will quite literally never be the same. I guess that’s always been the way, I just feel it more urgently at the moment. I’m someone who talks to think. But when you have been shut away solitary in isolation for so long, with no one to talk to, I started writing again – just sending posts to myself, not publishing,

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What to expect when flying in a COVID-19 world. It’s not as scary as you think

Having just took 4 flights in 4 days 3 international/1 US domestic here are some thoughts on flying in a COVID world overall less stressful flying than it is finding damn flights to fly on Generally, quieter, quicker and cleaner than before – all good things in my book – I’ve never cleared immigration so fast in the US – 5 mins compared to up to 1-2 hours on previous visits Other security seems to have calmed down a bit – less focus on liquids,

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Feeling all the feels as I say farewell to Antigua, the land of sea and sun

I’m about to actually leave Antigua. I’m sat here at the airport, having tried really hard not to labour the goodbyes and cry. Ash almost set me off this morning when she came to give me a hug, but we avoided eye contact and just hugged each other tight.  But as I’m at the gate, now I’m sat here in floods, PSA crying at an airport is never a good look, but in the middle of a pandemic when everyone is anxious, big snotty tears

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Freedom is…

Being able to run outside again for the 1st time! We’re allowed outside again. Oh my god, what a joy! The beaches are still officially closed but we’re now allowed outside to exercise between 7-12noon. So, I put my running shoes on and went for my first run since lock down started. And fuck did it feel good. We’re still not allowed on the beaches yet but I’m running along the road parallel to the beach and have the wind in my hair and can

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Quarantined in the Caribbean

I’d been monitoring global travel restrictions since mid-January as I was helping to organise a big international trip to Trinidad for Carnival in February, and yet still I was wholly unprepared for how quick and fast the restrictions would descend. Coming back from Trinidad it was clear the world was starting to change, after what I now know was my last experience of true pre-COVID 19 freedom – a world where we could still dance and sweat and kiss and touch in crowds, perhaps it

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I first visited Granada back in 2006, it was one of the first stops on a backpacking trip, we stayed in a hostel by Gran Via. We didn’t fall in love with it instantly, as probably were a bit nervous of security given our first back packing experience. We went for a big dinner in a Moroccan restaurant in the Islamic quarter, and then went for a few drinks. Big mistake. With every drink, we were given a plate of tapas. We were confused, we

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Granada Focus

Tales from Zipolite, Mexico

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