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?



These shoes are made for walking

hiking boots look

I’m gonna come straight out and say it. Why are hiking boots so damn ugly? Do you really need them? Surely a semi-stylish pair of well- worn trainers can do the job. I’m not suggesting Isabel Marants but come on.

For our volunteer trip to Peru, my daughter and I have been given a list of suggested items to bring and one of them is the dreaded pair of hiking boots. While we are there, the plan is to go to Machu Picchu and possibly on a jungle tour, so its 50/50 if we are going to need them.

I began researching the damn boots and came across some interesting findings.

First of all, one problem is that is seems the hiking boot suppliers are anti-style. I found one site that confidently names itself  ‘Best hiking boots pro’ and recommends NO STYLE to be considered at all. It says:

“The point when looking for your climbing boots, it’s extremely recommended that you don’t go for the stylish one rather than a durable and waterproof hiking boot.”

Did you know that women’s hiking boots are very different to the male boot de la hike?


Word of mouth: where to go in Peru?

nazca lines

Here are a few tips and suggestions on travelling in Peru including; where to visit, what you should pay and more. All from an avid traveller and photographer who recently explored the area. Cheers Rav!

Assuming you are flying to Lima then either taking a bus to cusco or flying. I suggest you stay somewhere near Plaza de armas in the city center. You can book tours to Machu Picchu just about anywhere expect to pay around $250 USD for a 2 day tour. (You need a two day tour because you will sleep in Aguas Calientes and wake up early for Machu Picchu) DO NOT pay more than $250 for 2 days.

Jabs? – No legal requirements

GVN logo

The GVN provide a fantastic website for the volunteers with all sorts of useful and interesting information. I continue to be impressed by the efficiency of the staff and the organisation. 

One of the activities to cross off the list is of course, the jabs. What do we really need? When do we need to have them? And more importantly, where is that certificate that says what I have already had so I don’t need again!  

Here is a summary of the information provided by GVN. Obviously the main point is to consult a doctor first. 

 You will probably need the following vaccinations:


Volunteer Checklist



Just after I booked the Peru trip with GVN, what did I start? A checklist! What do they send me a day later? A Checklist – much better than the one I started.  Including checks like: have you checked your passport is valid for travel, let friends and family know how to contact you, written down your goals. I like lists and I’m impressed.


How to get a Police Check in Dubai

“As the volunteer work in Peru involves working closely with children and other vulnerable individuals, volunteers need to provide a police clearance document before volunteering commences.” – GVN

This will be a new challenge in Dubai. We have been advised to contact the local police station to find out the procedure. We should then expect to be asked to complete an application form authorizing the check to be done, pay a fee and a few weeks later the check will arrive in the mail. Hmmmm.

According to GVN, it should go like this:

If you come from a country that does not issue police clearances, three character references from reputable sources (employer, justice of the peace, landlord, the minister of your local church, teacher, etc) may be substituted. Your character referees should know you well enough to vouch for your character. Please ask them to write a letter stating who they are, how they know you, give a description of your character and how well you get along with those around you, and to judge your suitability to work in the volunteer program.

The police clearance or letters of reference need to be faxed, emailed or posted (copies only) to GVN at least 4 weeks prior to your start date in Peru.

You will also need to take the original copy with you to present to program staff during the Orientation period in Peru. Failure to provide a police clearance or character references may result in you not being able to volunteer in the program in Peru.

Let’s see. I will post the outcome…