Friday, 1 January 2016


The year that I:

Felt proud of Neal flying the A380

Checked Petra off my bucket list

Started a career in dog training

Placed my first ever bet in Las Vegas

Qualified as a RYA Day Skipper

Fell in love with my Apple Watch

Suffered my first dog bite

Fostered (and fell in love with) Arthur the dog

Began year number 4 of Dubai living

Collided with another car twice - neither time my fault

Lunched at the stunning Burgh Island Hotel

Rode a sea tractor

Watched Take That perform in Dubai

Flew through the Grand Canyon in a helicopter

Bought a house

Met beautiful baby Elodie

Made bread sauce on Christmas Day (and shared it with friends)


I'm so grateful to my friends, family and health for making all these things happen. Life is good.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Sun, Sea and Sails

Now I think about it, flying half way around the world, sharing a boat with 3 strangers, battling sea sickness and sleeping in a space about the same size as a sardine can does not sound like an ideal holiday plan. But it's lucky I didn't let that put me off because Neal and I just got back from a great trip to the Caribbean where we did exactly that. The goal was to get our 'Day Skipper' licenses, the hope was to have some fun along the way.

We visited the cutest spots but sadly so did hoards of other people. Soper's Hole, once the headquarters for pirates and a hiding place for treasure, now a hotspot for deck shoe clad tourists lacked the authenticity I was hoping for. Pirates Bight at Norman Island, the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Treasure Island' was a more unspoilt place where I would have happily stayed for a week had we had the chance. Even there the hundred or so moorings were almost constantly full.

That said, there's something awesome about sailing. The ability to go where the wind takes you, drop anchor when you're ready and explore places you can't get to on foot certainly outweighs the problems of a tiny 'galley' and the occasional bout of sea sickness. I even managed to check off 'watch the sun rise' from my must-do list for which I am super grateful now - though at the time being on deck in what felt like the middle of the night was tough. Anyway, now we are both qualified, we can plan future holidays chartering a yacht for ourselves and plan our routes to our own agenda. That's super exciting.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Some changes around here

I feel that my ultimate-extra-long-gap-year may be finally drawing to close in the next few months. Because of this I've been reviewing all the things I wanted to achieve with that time on my hands and how much progress (or lack thereof I have made). One of the big things on my list was this blog. I wanted to create:

- somewhere I could save my thoughts
- a place to share information on my little business ventures
- something that reflected my style
- a way to share some of the billion photographs I take each week

The number of people reading this has never really been a concern for me (in fact I find it hard to tell people I know in the 'real world' about this space at all). I have always tried to keep true to myself and write with the voice I hear in my head which sometimes makes me nervous to put anything out there. But it has got easier. 

Last week I decided needed a little face lift. I bought a super simple template from one of my favourite places for blog knowledge - the wonder forest. I had long hoped to write my own blogger template but I was finding it kind of stressful, so I decided there was something wonderful about admitting defeat and supporting a fellow blogger for the time being. One day I will get back to coding but right now I'm concentrating on getting jobs done - and this way worked out just fine. 

I also simplified my banner up at the top there, and I added some category links in the side bar on the left. The hardest part for me was taking some pictures of myself that I wasn't horrified to put out in the world (yes that's how I normally feel about selfies - horrified!).

I'm quite pleased with this little home on the web of mine. Gap year or not, I feel I'm in a position to keep writing and sharing here and be proud of what I've created. 

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Photographing four legged friends

I've no idea why, but over the last year I've become a bit of a specialist at photographing dogs. Yes, I love dogs, and yes I love my camera, but pets are not the easiest to work with. If you struggle capturing the spirit of your pet, here are some of my tried and tested strategies. 


Get down on their level - The level of the camera can make the difference between an amateur and professional looking photograph. Pictures of pets from above are pretty boring when you could be seeing the action from dog or cat level. Use a small tripod or a pile of books to stand your camera down low in your pet's world.

Gracie in the grass

Zoom lens - For a camera shy pet it's great to use a zoom lens. Gracie was way more comfortable when she thought no-one was watching. Though it's a close up - this picture was actually taken from the far side of the garden.

Or be prepared to crop - if you can't zoom right in on the subject, keep snapping anyway and be prepared to crop that photo down later on to remove distractions.

Use treats and toys - One of my favourite techniques to get the owner in the picture is to get the face licking shot. For dogs, a dollop of peanut butter on the nose works great. Or perhaps your four legged friend just needs a little encouragement to engage with you while you have a camera in hand. Take out a favourite toy to see their faces light up.

Lily and Bella run

Use a quick shutter speed - With Bella and Lily I always need to get that shutter closing super quick. They love to run around together and the shots where their feet are off the ground are the best. It's much easier to up my shutter speed than slow my dogs down. If you can't adjust shutter speed on your camera, look for a sport mode - that should work well too. 

Tula in the bath

Capture the every day - Tula in the bath is one of my favourite pictures. I loved capturing her routine on camera when she holidayed with us last year. Have you thought about photographing your pet asleep, being washed or with her favourite chew toy? 

Lily snoozing

Keep a camera handy - Pets are unpredictable and you never know when the perfect shot will present itself. When it does, use whatever camera is handy, even if it's on your phone. A low resolution phone photo is much better than missing the moment because you were running to find the DSLR. 

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Life - the one where I complain about January blues

Well it's January and January isn't generally exciting is it? Around here we've been missing the hustle and bustle of Christmas, fighting off sickness and getting stuff done. Even poor Lily is sick, she's sneezing and tired and unusually down in the dumps. All she wants to do is lie in the comfiest looking spot she can find and sleep. I know how she feels. 

Neal and I are getting ready for our holiday next month by revising our nautical knowledge. As much as I'm looking forward to a trip away, I don't find passage planning or chart reading very exciting but it has to be done. And then there's flights and trains to sort out, kennels to book, budgets to organise. It should all be worth it when we get there. 

For entertainment I've been working on some hairband designs that my sister and I started while she was here. We picked up some cheap, pretty fabrics and searched the web for inspiration. I've discovered I love the 'tuck and cover' style for my hair. It's so easy and prettier than the usual up do and I think a bit of fabric on my head livens up my winter outfits. 

January is a sad month don't you think? The wonderful festive season is over, diets begin and spending is cut back - at least that's what it's like for me. I'm more than a little jealous of the generous helpings of snow I'm seeing in other parts of the world at the moment, but at least I can enjoy the beautiful weather we are having in Dubai. Before long it will be super hot again and I'll be wishing it was January once more. 

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