Zena, Dan and Asha the van

I grabbed my sister Zena and Dan for a speedy Q&A session before they set off on an exciting adventure in their newly refurbed campervan heading to France, Spain and beyond.

Tell me about Asha the van
We wanted a homely feel so we looked around for a van with big windows and a long wheel base. A Ford Transit, 17 seater minibus was on sale that met our criteria and so we bought it.  Researching many stories from other people with converted campervans we started the hands-on conversion of our new home.
The first job was to rip out all the seats, frames and base (which took the longest). We changed our mind a lot but this was all part of the ongoing process. We both have different skill sets which, looking back, worked perfectly. Were there any challenges? Yes, nothing was flat or straight. The whole thing from start to finish took 6 months. 

Where are you heading?
We’ll be driving to Newhaven, take a ferry to Dieppe and then head towards Bordeaux before exploring Spain and Portugal. 

What are your plans while you are travelling around?
Apart from enjoying the sights, seeing new places and meeting people…we’ll look for work or volunteering opportunities whenever possible.

So, why?
We are looking forward to the freedom to explore. We want to experience something new and different and most importantly have a sense of adventure!

You can find out the whereabouts of Zena and Dan on Instagram: Vanfullofasha







Spend a day on Bendor Island, Bandol

After a seafood lunch on the coast of Bandol we walked over to the ferry port of Bandol for a 10 min trip to Bendor Island or the Ile de Bendor to the locals.

You will find the departure times and the ticket prices on the website: https://www.lesilespaulricard.com/acces-ile-bendor/

The island was purchased in 1950 by Paul Ricard famously known for the creation of the Ricard pastis or Pernod in 1932, an anise and licorice flavoured aperitif. Mr Ricard was also famous for his love of nature and the arts. When he purchased the island it was deserted and uninhabitable. He set about turning it into a habitable paradise with little multicolored houses where he could invite friends and family to enjoy the quietness and relax surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. During the 1960’s this 7 hectare island became host to a number of artists from all realms of the artistic world including Dali, Fernandel and Josephine Baker.

There are plenty of places to enjoy like:

  • Glass blowers to basket makers, ceramists to jewellery makers
  • The Art Gallery which pays tribute to Paul Ricard who was also a talented painter
  • The Ricard Museum of Advertising Objects which houses a collection of items owned by Paul Ricard
  • The Museum of Wine and Spirits which houses a collection drinks from all over the world
    Restaurants and little cafes and 2 white sand beaches to hang out on

What more could you want?



Street cafes: editors pick


Tom & Serg, Dubai, UAE

Tucked away on the outskirts of the Al Quoz, Tom & Serg was established in Dubai in 2013 by Tom Arnel and Sergio Lopez. The space is an expansive industrial warehouse with exposed ceiling pipework and high ceilings.  The open kitchen and white subway tiles provide a trendy, open and inclusive environment to sip coffee while you work, lunch/brunch/brekkie or catch up with friends.  The on-brand menu ranges from locally influenced dishes like Shakshouka baked eggs, Baghdad scramble, Quinoa and falafel wrap or there’s the morning after wrap made up of scrambled egg, beef bacon, roast chicken, mozzarella, crushed avocado, tomato, black bean & lime salsa. 

A magnet for Dubai hipsters and the thirty-something crowd, this joint would work well in any city.  I’m sure we will see this successful blueprint pave the way for future editions.

Al-Joud Centre, Al Quoz, Dubai near Ace Hardware Shk Zayed Road Tel: +971 (0)56 474 6812 www.tomandserg.com




I’m not lost, I’m taking a selfie with a llama

DSCN0382On my return from a mother-daughter volunteer trip to Cusco, Peru, I was scrolling through the hundreds of pictures trying to find ‘the one’. It’s a challenge I set myself following a family trip to distract me from the fact I have taken far too many pictures, again! The only rule is that it has to capture the spirit of the adventure.

selfie MPThis is it. It’s my 10 year old daughter, Sadie lost on Machu Picchu, one of the world’s best known archaeological sites which is also the home to a herd of llamas. We were visiting during our time-off from working in a conservation zoo.

While I was taking the obligatory been-there-done-that picture with the stunning Machu Picchu background, Sadie asked if she could go up to the watchman’s hut a few metres above us on the next level. I apparently mumbled “yes”. A few minutes later she was out of sight. After a short but traumatic hunt around the area, that included a compact panic attack and random screeching at strangers, I found her near the hut, relaxed and smiling with camera in-hand.

It wasn’t until I was going through her memory card that I came across these photographs and realised what she was doing while she was “lost”. Says it all really.