Exploring Island Life in Boa Vista, Cape Verde

Our trip to Cape Verde was a year ago now so I thought it was about time I finally wrote about it seeing as it’s one of the places I get asked about most often.  A lot of people have either never heard of this small collection of islands dotted just off the coast of West Africa or they don’t know much about the destination.  In all honesty I didn’t know much about the islands either and was under the impression that it was just a relaxing holiday destination with large all inclusive resort hotels and not much else to do.

Me being me, I obviously looked into what there is to do on the island because there’s only so long I can sit on the beach or around the pool before getting bored and I always like to get out and explore somewhere new.  Boa Vista literally translates as “good view” in Portuguese so it only seemed fitting that we venture outside the resort in search of these good views.

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Travel with baby

A New Year of Adventures

2018 was a bit of a mix for me. On the one hand it was a really tough year learning how to be a single mama, raising an extremely demanding (but also incredibly cute) toddler mostly alone, and being the most exhausted I have ever been in my entire life.  I also learnt that mums can in fact function on only a few hours’ sleep every night and that coffee is a very loyal friend.

But despite the low moments it was also an amazing year full of travel explorations and exciting adventures. We travelled 8 times during 2018 visiting Cape Verde, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Ibiza, Sardinia, a road trip in Kent, and the Edinburgh Christmas markets.  That’s 4 new countries for me and 6 new countries for Evie – making Evie’s total number of countries visited 13 before she’s even 2 years old.

But it’s not the country count that matters, it’s what we actually did and the memories we created that made the year so special. There are so many highlights but here are a few of my main ones:

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Pregnancy announcement photo

Our Biggest Adventure Yet

You may have noticed that I’ve been a little quiet on the blog and social media front lately which is very unlike me. Usually, as soon as I wake up in the morning I’m thinking about what dreamy photo I can share on Instagram or where my next blog post will take my readers to. I’m constantly editing photos, replying to comments, reading other blogs and getting plenty of inspiration from other people’s travels. But lately there has been something else that has been keeping me occupied which is the reason for my quietness and lack of sharing.

Constant tiredness, nausea, backache, searching through hundreds of different types of cots and prams, and simply planning for the future now seem to take up my every waking second. Yep, that’s right, we’ve got a little mini adventurer on the way who will be joining us in March 2017!

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Camping in Yosemite

A Camping Weekend in Yosemite National Park

One of the stops both Mr Ayla and I were looking forward to most on our American adventure was camping in one of the United States’ most incredible national parks.  Yosemite is a four hour drive from San Francisco so, once Mr Ayla had got the hang of a slightly bigger drive than he was used to, we headed out of the city in our absolutely awesome campervan courtesy of Escape Campervans.

After driving along the windy tree filled roads, we arrived late at night and made our way to the Upper Pines Campground, right in the heart of Yosemite Valley, where we would be setting up our camper for the next couple of nights.  It was pretty difficult but equally fun to set up the bed in the dark, find the bear locker to store our food in (no bears would be getting to my leftover cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory!), and find the toilets, all the while trying to be quiet so as not to wake the other campers nearby.

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Blazing Saddles San Francisco

Biking the Bridge with Blazing Saddles San Francisco

Let me start off by saying that I may consider myself a feminist but, when it comes to all things sporty, I shamefully fit right into the typical girl stereotype.  Sports and me just do not go.  Give me a Zumba class or a nightclub dance floor and I can dance away for hours but anything else and I am a complete lost cause.  I duck in horror when a football comes my way; I embarrassingly swing a golf club several times before actually managing to hit the ball; and I haven’t been on a bike in so long that I would need stabilisers.

So when we arrived at Blazing Saddles’ offices in San Francisco all ready for a bike ride around the city, I was fully prepared to be a little rusty.  I didn’t think I’d be quite so bad that I would cycle just a few feet before crashing into a whole row of stationary bikes and almost toppling off into an embarrassing heap on the floor.  But yes, this really happened, and this was just on the practice run before we’d even left the warehouse!  Two minutes in and I was already wondering (as I’m sure Mr Ayla was too) what on earth I had gotten myself into.  They say you never forget how to ride a bike…not true.  I totally forgot.

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Best songs for an American road trip

25 of the Best Songs for an American Road Trip

With sunglasses on and the wind in our hair, a fold out map covering the dashboard, a giant pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and a huge $1.99 cup of Dr Pepper filling the car for snacks , and the wide open road ahead of us.  Our great American road trip was everything I had imagined it to be and more.

I love the freedom of a road trip – being able to go wherever we want, whenever we want (as long as it fits in with my planned out itinerary of course!).  We hopped out of the car to see the stunning blue coastal views along the Big Sur; grabbed lunch at quirky Route 66 roadside diners; came across the most random attractions like Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo and added our own bubblegum to the wall (a gross kind of abstract art).  We stumbled upon the coolest places to eat and drink; posed in front of wacky street art; hiked mountains and dipped our toes in the ocean.  But most of all we did lots and lots (and lots) of singing.

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road trip to grand canyon

A Quirky Road Trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon

As much as I hated leaving the fabulous city of Las Vegas behind, it was onto our next adventure.  The 4 and a half hour drive to the Grand Canyon was pretty smooth sailing – aside from Mr Ayla having a slight panic at having to drive out of the busy city, in an automatic, on the other side of the road, amidst 4 lanes of crazy Vegas traffic.  After Googling which pedal was which (don’t judge – we drive manuals at home and neither of us know much about cars!) we were on our way with our ultimate road trip album blaring out of the CD player.

Despite being quite a long drive there were plenty of places to stop off along the way and the Hoover Dam was the first place on our itinerary.  We’d left Vegas a little later than we’d intended (possibly due to too many cocktails the night before) so by the time we made the short 45 minute drive there, it was already packed full of tourists.  We decided not to do a tour but instead just drove across the dam itself and ogled at the size of it before taking a few snaps and carrying on with the journey.

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Essentials for an American road trip

10 Essentials for an American Road Trip

There is nothing quite like the feeling of setting out in your car on an epic road trip, the back seat piled with bags, blankets and snacks, Rusted Root’s “Send Me On My Way” playing in the background, and your favourite travel buddy sitting beside you.  Whether we’re exploring somewhere completely new and having to learn the rules of the road in a different country, or just going on a short weekend break closer to home, road trips are one of my favourite ways to travel.  Being able to stop wherever and whenever we want, having no obligations or time limits, and just enjoying the freedom of an open road.

Our great American adventure is only a day off now (eeek!!), and while we may not have actually been on our American road trip yet, we have been on a fair few in the past, from roadtrippin’ South Africa’s scenic Garden Route to driving around the pretty Cotswolds.

So these are my 10 essentials that are needed for a great road trip, with a few that will give us those extra American feels as we’re cruising along Route 66.

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What to do in London

Latest London Adventures

The desire to get on a plane and step foot in a different country is currently taking over my every thought.  I haven’t been away since our trip to France back in December and although I love a staycation, our weekend break in Brighton just does not count.  I know I may sound greedy but I’m sure most of you travellers out there will agree with me – travel is like a drug and right now I am having some massive withdrawal symptoms.

So the thought of our impending American adventure next week is like the light at the end of a very long very dark tunnel.

But I’m not one to sit around at home just waiting for something exciting to happen, so in the meantime I’ve kept myself busy by becoming a tourist in my own city and exploring more of London.  I often take for granted the fact that I live in such a fantastic city but it’s little adventures like these that make me remember how great London really is.

So I’ve put together a little itinerary of some of our latest explorations over the past few weeks that would make for a fun weekend in London.

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Travel blogger planning a trip

A Surprise Adventure

It’s been five long torturous months of having to keep this secret to myself and now I can finally share it.  Mr Ayla turned 30 yesterday and I’d planned a little surprise for his birthday.  There may actually be a few of you (okay possibly a lot of you) who already know about this surprise – I may not have been able to share it with my husband but the excitement was too much not to share with anyone at all!

Mr Ayla woke up on his birthday morning to be greeted with a treasure hunt leading him to a selection of clues around the house and finally to his big surprise…

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