All posts by Linda

Travel Tag

This week I have been tagged by the gorgeous Jess of Shopgirl Anonymous to take part in a blogging travel tag.  I was delighted to take part, as apart from being a fashion/footwear geek, bookworm, foodie and music fan, I am also a bit of a travel/geography geek  – so this seemed a good a time as any to give this tag a whirl!

What is your favourite place that you have visited?

Start with the hardest questions, why don’t you?!  That is so, so difficult because I do enjoy every place that I have been lucky enough to visit!  OK.. here goes…

  • My favourite UK city outside of London is Bath.  On the day I visited, it rained but it still didn’t dampen the atmosphere of the place. I did try the famous Roman Baths water … ugh! (I needed a glass of Pinot Grigio to take the taste away). I also visited a glass blowing studio – it was fascinating to watch how glass was made.
  • My favourite part of London:  Covent Garden.  Love the market area, the food places, the pubs, the shops… check out Penhaligon’s Perfume Shop 🙂

  • My favourite European city:  Toss up between Amsterdam and Rome.  Both walkable cities, filled with gorgeous buildings – Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and Rome’s Tivoli Fountain area.  Food wise I recommend an Indonesian restaurant for a tapas style meal  in Amsterdam (and chips with mayo) and in Rome, well, food is good wherever you go! I love Italian wine too – red Barolo and white, Pinot Grigio… and for an aperitif, Limoncello.
  • My favourite city outside Europe: Miami.  I liked the vibe. And the tattoo shops (Miami Ink).
  • Favourite Non Europe destination:  Florida Keys.  I tasted the most fabulous Key Lime pie in Key Largo and I enjoyed the tour of Hemingway’s home in Key West. I went in August – it was extremely hot.

  • Favourite Europe  destination:  Madeira.  Loved everything about this island from the rum punch to the mountainous scenery.  Unfortunately we were unable to do the street sledding down the Monte in Funchal as forest fires were raging – but it is a perfect excuse to revisit!
  • Favourite winter destination:  Finland. Yes, it is extremely cold in winter.  However, I went in December to the extreme north west of Finland, over 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It was beautiful. You travelled about by skidoo or sleighs pulled by reindeers or husky dogs; the Northern Lights was a fantastic spectacle,  hot chocolate laced with spirit (like brandy) was both warming & welcoming, and if you have children, Father Christmas lives not far away …

If you could visit anywhere tomorrow, where would you go?

Sicily.  I’d trek up Mount Etna, admire the view and then head back down the slopes to Taormina for a well deserved limoncello.

Madeira

Would you rather a city or beach holiday?

I am happiest where there are mountains or volcanoes or sand dunes or hills –  so that is my first criteria usually when booking a destination.  I live in a flat coastal estuary area so being in an upland area makes a pleasant change.  My favourite beach  currently is the Kenyan coast north of Mombasa at Nyali.

My Top 3 Travel Essentials

  • iPhone  – for use as a camera & music station (especially on the flight)
  • Kindle – I make sure I have downloaded plenty of books as I try and read a lot on holiday!
  • Mints/Sweets – I can’t do any journey without them – including my commute into work!

What Is The Most Adventurous Dish You Have Ever Tried From Another Country?

I’ve eaten snails and frog’s legs in France; and Dik Dik Antelope  and Crocodile Steaks in Kenya.  My friend and her family went to Vietnam & Cambodia over Christmas and they ate deep fried tarantula spiders! Even her girls who are 8 & 10!  Having said that, my 10 year old son has happily devoured crunchy crickets and mealworms!

My 4 Essential Travel Footwear.

They are all flat so easy to pack and I DO need 4 pairs:

  • Jewelled thongs
  • denim ballerinas
  • sparkly espadrilles
  • slip on shoes

Thank you Jess for the fun idea! I hope, dear readers, that you enjoyed the tag too. Why not have a go at answering the questions – I’d love to hear about your travel stories and adventures!

Linda x

Photo credits: Linda Hobden

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An Interview With The-Bias-Cut.com

Are you a lady who is 40,50,60,70, 80… and beyond? Are you frustrated trying to find an outfit that wasn’t dowdy/frumpy/boring/unflattering?  Jacynth Bassett’s mother was frustrated and Jacynth became saddened at her mum’s frustration.  So Jacynth launched her own online boutique and blog, the-Bias-Cut.com, for women who know that age shouldn’t limit style.  I caught up with Jacynth recently to find out more. Hi Jacynth and welcome…..

Hi! I’m Jacynth. I’m 24 and the founder of the-Bias-Cut.com – Shopping With Attitude. It’s the first multi-label online premium fashion boutique that truly celebrates style at every age. I founded it straight out of graduating from studying law at Cambridge – where I was also president of the law society – using my minimal savings and some insurance money after my suitcase got stolen off a train with all my belongings in it (including some amazing Emporio Armani sandals that had been recent birthday presents from my mum!!). I developed, built and created the business entirely on my own, and now I’m one year in I can’t believe how much it’s already taken off!

What inspired you to set up “Bias-Cut.com”?

Since I was 14, my intention was to become a lawyer but, by my second year at uni, I realised it wasn’t for me. Instead my mind started to drift to business, and I knew if I were to start up my own one, it would need to be in an area I really loved. So fashion was the obvious answer. I then started thinking about how frustrated and saddened I’d become at seeing women, like my mum, being treated as invisible and irrelevant in the eyes of the fashion industry – largely because of their age and changing shape. My mum and I are very close and for years we would go shopping together, but she’d often end up fed up by a demoralising shopping experience. I began speaking to lots of other similar women, and realised there was a real problem. So that’s when I became determined to create a boutique that actually empowered and celebrated women like my mum as much as everyone else.

Your brand name certainly stands out from the crowd. – but I was wondering, is there a meaning to why you chose “the-Bias-Cut.com”as your brand name?

I wanted the name to have a direct link to fashion, and to ‘cut on the bias’ is the fashion technique where someone cuts diagonal across the grain of fabric rather than along its lines. But equally we’re about cutting through bias and ending prejudice, largely based around age, in the fashion industry. So the name is a double entendre.

I am totally in love with the “Gigi Nude Brogues” – totally gorgeous! What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

They’re a lot of people’s favourites, and one of our best sellers! This season our new label POM Amsterdam is doing really well – from their fabulous fun scarves, to their jackets lined with the scarf prints. They are cut really well, and they just bring a smile to your face. But also our cashmere and our 100% cotton poplin printed shirts are always a big hit throughout the year.

Out of all the outfits, do you have any favourites?

Personally I’m a little bit obsessed with the sashenka moon midi skirt by Baum Und Pferdgarten. It is such and elegant shape, and it has pockets! And I love a cool print that also incorporates texture. Baum always cuts everything so well, from their trousers to their tops.

Your boutique is for those who like to shop with attitude – where ageism is never in style. On your website your designs are all modelled by normal women – different heights, shapes and sizes. I’m also impressed that you can search on your website for items by your body shape as well as size. Hypothetically speaking though, which famous lady would you love to see as the “face” of “Bias-Cut.Com”?

Thank you! They’re certainly feature that have gone down very well. If I’m honest I don’t see any particular famous lady being ‘the face’ of the-Bias-Cut.com, just because we’re about encouraging our customers to aspire to be the best versions of themselves, rather than someone else. But, with regards to celebrities, it would be an honour to have women such as Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Kristin Scott Thomas, Viola Davis and Christine Baranski as brand ambassadors. They all have great individual style and fabulous attitude, which is exactly what we’re all about celebrating.

You feature in your online boutique an impressive number of designers, the latest being Cove Cashmere. Are there any other new designers you are hoping to feature this year?

Yes! We have a fabulous Dutch label called Fabienne Capot coming in September with a range of lovely embroidered cotton tees, blouses and an emerald velvet blazer I keep dreaming about. We also have a few other surprises but I don’t want to spoil them all for you!

Looking ahead, what colours/patterns/styles do you predict will be popular next season (Summer or Autumn)?

Constellation map prints are going to be big in Autumn – stars are always popular, and it’s a cool progression from the classic pattern. In fact, space all round is going to be big; there’s going to be quite an intergalactic feel! Plus the other big pattern is going to be lightening bolts. Velvet is still going to be very popular, as are bell sleeves and ruffles. And forest and emerald green is going to be seen a lot, as is red. If you look at the trend reports, there are lots of other looks that are forecast to be popular, as well as lots of contradictions. But, in my opinion and from the research I’ve done, these will be the big ones.

As you are based in London, do you offer worldwide shipping?

Yes we ship to 33 countries, and have lots of happy customers overseas! And at the moment it’s free worldwide shipping on all orders over £50 to celebrate the opening of our first public pop-up shop in Greenwich, London later this month (25th-31st)!

When choosing outfits/designers to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional charm or bits of all those?

I have a set of rules I go by:

  • Everything I select has to be of a flattering cut. In other words, you shouldn’t have to be 6ft or size UK 6 to look good in it. In fact I often use my mum as the fit model as she has a very common apple shape.
  • Everything I select has to be of excellent quality for the price. I’ve spent a lot of time researching fabrics, so I know when it’s good or bad, or when the wrong fabric has been used. Sometimes I come across an awesome piece, but a very impractical fabric has been used, so then I won’t select it. Equally, I make sure to study the technological developments of fabrics, such as polyester, so that I don’t discard it straight away, and can spot the good quality from the poor.
  • Everything has a modern twist combined with a timeless appeal. Our clothes are premium, so they are more of an investment than highstreet. So the last thing I want is for a customer to feel it’s outdated within 6 months. With that in mind, I do consider the trends, but only pick pieces that subtly reference them.
  • I don’t want to wear the clothes, why should my customer? We’re all about celebrating style at every age, so we refuse to sell brands that patronise the older customer, or offer frumpy clothing. So I have to like everything that we sell. But equally, I make sure to keep my customers, their comments and their feedback at the forefront of my mind, so that I never end up choosing something that’s just for me.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

That’s a very good question… I’m quite a style chameleon really and I have a rather excessively extensive wardrobe that reflects that. Every outfit is a reflection of who I am and what I’m feeling that day, but that might mean wearing a girly dress and brogues one day, and on another black jeans, ankle boots and a leather biker jacket. But if I had to define my style generally it’s feminine with a funky edge.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

I adore Maje. Their aesthetic is very me – feminine yet cool – and their cuts work well on my figure. And I wear a lot of Whistles too. Designer wise, I love Brand for their quality jeans, and for shoes I wear a lot of Rupert Sanderson and Miu Miu. I also love traditional Moschino; I’m less of a fan of it now since Jeremy Scott has taken over as I find it a bit OTT, but I have a lot of the brand from before him, and still enjoy finding vintage pieces.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Idealistically, I would love a badass cape and a pair of Malone Souliers heeled sandals. Realistically, it’s a new crop top/sports bra and some Nike trainers for dance class!

Boots or Shoes?

That’s a tough one. It would have to be shoes because there are more varieties, so then I have more excuses to need a new pair. Plus, because I’m short, knee-high and thigh-high boots don’t work on me. But ankle boots trump all shoes for me, because they are so cute and sexy whatever the heel height!

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about the-Bias-Cut.Com.

www.the-bias-cut.com

facebook: www.facebook.com/thebiascutcom

facebook forum: www.facebook.com/ageismisneverinstyle

Instagram: @the_bias_cutcom

Twitter: @the_bias_cutcom

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/the_bias_cutcom

Thanks Jacynth … and your galactic prediction sounds mighty fine to me.  Just remember dear readers to look out for those stars and lightning strikes! I am so pleased that all sizes are considered at the-Bias-Cut.com – I am a UK size 10/12 and I find that a lot of companies geared towards the older woman have a starting size of UK12/14. Same goes for shoes – my feet are narrow – and a lot of shoes offered are wide fit, or extra wide. What fashion frustrations do you have, dear readers?

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of the-Bias-Cut.com

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An Interview With Coruu Silicone Jewellery

Finland bound this week – Coruu Silicone Jewellery is a Finnish women powered company whose exquisite jewellery pieces are designed by three talented Finland based designers: Satsuki Hata, Tessa Ojala and Sara Tuuli.  Coruu Design Finland is owned by Mrs. Sari Jokinen and Mrs. Maarit Fellman. Not having come across silicone jewellery before, I was intrigued to find out more …. so I put some questions to the owners & entrepreneurs Maarit and Sari.  Welcome ladies….

What was behind your choice to concentrate on silicone jewellery?

The story of Coruu goes back to 2014, we were long-time colleagues and decided that it was time to give entrepreneurship a go.Our focus was on training in marketing and ecommerce, but at the same time we decided to start an online store of our own.
Silicone jewellery came to mind. For a shop on the Internet, Coruu products are ideal, as they are easy and cheap to ship, including internationally. No massive amount of storage space is needed, either. We found three Finland-based designers, who were excited to jump at the new kind of opportunity. The selection has recently expanded with a range of Moomin characters. With the license to sell Moomin jewellery, now we are hoping to enter Asian markets and UK. Now Coruu has one full-time employee looking after the online store and a few part-time staff members.

Hypothetically speaking, what famous lady (dead or alive) would you love to see as the “Face” of Coruu Silicone Jewellery?

We would like to see Marilyn Monroe as the face of Coruu.

I love the “Flowery Necklace”in both black & white; and the “Studded Necklace” in white. To date, what has been your most popular jewellery item?

Our popular necklace is black Flowery and black Feather earrings.

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

Our favourite earrings are Feathers in all colours and Studded necklace.

Each piece is so lovely and unique – where do the designers (Satsuki Hata, Tessa Ocala and Sara Tuuli) get their inspiration from for their collections?

Our designers seek inspiration from the natural world and graphic patterns. Only the best and most showy design will be included in the Coruu selection – the genuine statement pieces!

Are you introducing any new items to add to your collection into for 2017?

All the time we are designing new items. At the next summer, we launch couple of new bracelets necklaces and earrings. For example, Aster bracelet and necklace.

As Coruu Silicone Jewellery is based in Finland, are your pieces available to purchase worldwide?

Our webshop is worldwide and we have free shipping to all countries.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Maarit like jeans and high heels. Sari like jeans also and colourful clothes but wear comfortable shoes.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Maarit like sailing so her favourite shop is www.pellepetterson.fi. Sari loves dogs her favourite shop is www.zooplus.fi.

 What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Maarit is planning to buy new sailing coat from Pelle Petterson shop. Sari will buy a new shirt from Design by Pias.

Boots or Shoes? 

High Heels 

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Coruu Silicone Jewellery.

http://www.siliconejewelryshop.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CoruuSiliconeJewelry/
Instagram: @coruu_jewelry

Thank you for enlightening me about silicone jewellery – the pieces are certainly exquisite.  Dear readers,  I have used my native tongue spelling of “jewellery” throughout this post (I am a Brit after all!) but please note that the company links spell it the American English way.   So, dear readers, do you wear silicone jewellery? What type of jewellery do you like wearing? Do share your views, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been printed with kind permission of Coruu Design Finland.

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Happiness Is PomPoms

A few weeks ago on the blog I interviewed the UK charity Living Streets (read the interview HERE) and the charity were preparing for the UK’s National Walk Month  this May.  One of the events they mentioned was #HappyShoesday on Tuesday 16th May.  That date is not quite here yet, I know, but it got me thinking about happy shoes! One of the current summer shoe wear fads this year is footwear with pom-poms.  Adding a sense of humour to your outfit, this fad is not “new” by any means, the 2017 twist is plimsolls with a pom-pom on top… 

So, what is a pom-pom? Pom-pom comes from the French word “pompon” which refers to a small ball made of fabric or feathers; an ornamental round tuft that originally adorned hats.  Even Napoleon sported a pom-pom or two on his hats.  

Pom-poms on shoes are not entirely a new idea either.  Pom-pom mules called “tauranwari jutti” have been around since the early 16th century in the Pakistani province of Sindhu.  They are perfectly suited to the hilly, sandy environment of the region – the pom-poms cushion the foot at the front whereas the open back of the mule makes it easy to flip out trapped sand.

Over in West Africa, in Burkina Faso, brightly coloured leather flip flops were worn with pride in 1965 … and still fashionable today!

In 2015/2016 fur pom-poms were a winter fad – in 1950, Ferragamo made laced up shoes dominated by a white mink pompom.  In 2015/2016, real fur and its implications were shunned and there were plenty of vegan fur pom-poms around so that you can express your style without supporting an industry that kills animals.  

Coming back to this summer, I have spotted many sandals sporting colourful little pom-poms – such as my high heeled sandals that I bought from La Redoute:

If you are really into your crafts, why not have a go at creating your own pompom created sandals?  Shops like Accessorize or ASOS have pompom shoe clips … or grab a bag of tiny pom-poms from a craft shop or even in your local supermarket (I spotted lots of sparkly ones in Asda yesterday :))  There are plenty of YouTube videos explaining how to do your pompom creations.

You can’t deny that pom-poms do bring a smile to your face – brings back memories of making wool pom-poms in Girls Brigade! Did anybody else enjoy making wool pom-poms in their youth?  Do share your pompom stories… I’d love to hear them 🙂

Linda x

All photos are by Linda Hobden

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How To Interpret Bad Hotel Reviews

Picture the scene. You’ve spotted the hotel of your dreams – it looks good, it’s in a location you want to visit, it’s a place to cross off on your bucket list, plus it’s in your price range (just about). So, you are about to wave off your deposit when you stumble upon the review section. Regardless how many excellent reviews a hotel gets, it is the bad review that has grabbed your attention. Let’s face it, every hotel whether it is 1 star or 7 star deluxe gets a bad review at some point.  Why is that? It is because the majority of reviewers are of two types: the ones that moan and complain for the sake of it – usually the complaints are fairly trivial but they are normally the ones that leave a review of essay standards; the ones that take their holiday experience as a whole so that the bad parts are not necessarily actually to do with the hotel itself (tour guides, holiday reps, weather etc). I am not saying that bad hotels don’t exist, they do, but interpreting the bad reviews helps in deciding whether the hotel is right for you or whether you should avoid it like the plague. Here’s my guide on interpreting just some of those reviews (all reviews mentioned are true and have appeared on Trip Advisor & Hotel sites)

1.MADEIRA

REVIEW:  “People were like zombies in the lounge area”

INTERPRETATION:  Hotel had limited wifi in the lounge area.

ADVICE: This is a typical “moaner” review as obviously people can spend time on the internet if they wish. However, if you require a better internet connection then perhaps this isn’t the place for you. I visited this hotel – all I saw were a couple of teenagers on their iPhones!

2. MADEIRA

REVIEW: “Pushy attitude of the Saga holidaymakers who pushed at the bar & at the buffet, and who insisted on bingo every night”

INTERPRETATION:  Elderly clientele who like to play bingo.

ADVICE:  Check when the reviewer visited the hotel & whether it was the same time of year as you’re planning to visit. Bear in mind that hotels change their entertainment programmes during the season. Saga holidays do not operate in July/August – I visited in August and the entertainment was geared towards a much younger clientele – not a bingo card in sight but plenty of action in the pool area with international water polo contests.

3. UK

REVIEW: ” Disappointed that the breakfast was only served from 8am to 10am at weekends; the continental spread was good, but the cooked breakfast was left on the hot plate and past its best.”

INTERPRETATION: Somebody obviously overslept and the kitchen had stopped cooking.

ADVICE: That’s life.  Food times vary.  In the UK restaurants often open for dinner at 5pm – in France it is nearer 7.30pm.  

4. MOROCCO

REVIEW: “On the way back from a walk we bought some rolls and crisps from a nearby shop. The hotel security guards stopped us, searched our bags, and confiscated our food.  We did see the sign stating no food or drink should be brought into the hotel, but surely rolls and crisps were OK…”

INTERPRETATION:  This was a 5 star all inclusive hotel that had this strict policy. Food available all day/night at no extra cost as you’ve already paid in advance.

ADVICE:  I liked the way that the hotel responded to that review – they stated that they were very pleased to hear that the security guards were doing such a good job. 

5. CAPE VERDE

REVIEW: ” When I got home I realised that between Cape Verde and home my suitcase had been tampered with. I had jewellery and watches worth £1000 stolen”

INTERPRETATION:  Not anything to do with the hotel but …

ADVICE: That can happen anywhere, any place unfortunately. Wherever you go, keep your wits about you and use the same security precautions as you would at home, eg avoiding unlit areas, etc.  Never pack valuable jewellery in your suitcase – put them in your hand luggage, wear them or leave them at home in your safe.

6. KENYA

REVIEW: “Red ants everywhere.”

INTERPRETATION: I’m on a safari but I’m not keen on little critters…

ADVICE: Research the country you are going to, especially if it is of a vastly different culture than where you live. Wildlife is wildlife. This chap also complained that the beer wasn’t cold…. 

There are many more examples, so my general advice is to read and interpret those reviews from people who share your:

  • gender
  • age group
  • country/nationality
  • time of year of travel
  • type of travelling companions
  • length of stay

If you decide to write a hotel review after a less than happy experience, please remember to keep the review relevant to the hotel; remember that not everybody shares your tastes; offer advice to help prevent a repeat of your bad experience rather than be totally negative.

After all that, I hope you have a good holiday! If you come across any funny reviews, do let me know (good or bad).  I came across a review for Diani Beach in Kenya (which is in East Africa)… “I’m giving this beach 5 stars as it’s the best beach in West Africa….” 🙂

Linda x

All photos are by Linda Hobden

 

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Seaside In The Spring

“Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside….” over the recent Easter week I visited the quiet UK Essex resort of Holland on Sea, just north of the bustling resort of Clacton – a promenade links the two resorts and is easily walkable (although in summer there is a road train running ). I have visited Clacton for my holidays as a small child and in 2004, my parents moved to Holland on Sea from London – it was always a dream of theirs to move to a bungalow by the sea. Compared to Clacton, Holland doesn’t have the amusement arcades, funfairs and the pier but I do prefer the laidback feel of Holland on Sea.

Lining the promenade between Clacton and Holland Haven Country Park are colourful beach huts – glorified sheds that have captured the hearts of many people.  Prior to 2014 the promenade fronted the railings and rocks of the sea defences – still a nice walk but most families headed to the beaches of Clacton and Frinton (the resort north of Holland on Sea). 

The promenade in 2014 walking from Holland On Sea towards Clacton

Since 2015 a major renovation project has been going on to reclaim the beach at Holland on Sea – the promenade and beach huts are still there but now they front miles of endless sandy beach.  The promenade is fabulous for walking – however dog walking is restricted to the promenade only in the summer months (May – October).  

Holland-on-Sea beach

Some beach huts are looking a bit tired at the moment but the winter season has come to a close and the dry, sunny weather has enticed the owners to paint their huts – the array of colours are dazzling – and some huts have scenes painted on them.

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One hut as we walked past, was having an intricate scene painted not only on the outside but I also glimpsed the colourful painted scenes inside the hut too.  

The council has also erected some new beach huts on a reclaimed part of the beach which are available to hire on a daily basis.  

In the distance, you can see the outlying wind farm that lies out in the North Sea….

If you don’t want to boil up your kettle in your beach hut for a well deserved cuppa, then the assortment of cafes dotted along the prom will certainly provide you with your caffeine quota.  Alas, being out of season, I only found one cafe open aptly called The Beaches Cafe.  This cafe is a favourite with my mum as a tea stop on her daily walk. On this occasion though we indulged in lunch – yummy cod & chips, large jacket potatoes stuffed to the rafters with coleslaw, burger & chips, and my youngest son enjoyed his bacon & fried egg sandwich immensely!  The menu catered for those who want sandwiches, salads and toasted sandwiches too – as well as a coffee machine serving “real” coffee  and more delicate cups of tea if you don’t like a large mug of builder’s tea! My favourite part was the delicious ice cream – flavours included traditional vanilla, strawberry, chocolate as well as some more interesting flavours including lemon sorbet, rum & raisin, and my absolute favourite … maple & walnut! 

The Beaches Cafe also had a variety of beach equipment for sale from beach balls and fishing nets to blow up jet skis and giant whales.   Their shoes section had an array of boating shoes, flip flops and slider sandals for adults and children.

You could quite easily spend ages at the view from the window … although in summer, tables and chairs spill out over the terrace and  along the promenade itself…

As it is National Walking Month in May, I can’t think of a nicer place to have stroll…

Linda x

Photo Credit: Linda Hobden

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Going Teal

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the USA with its trademark teal ribbon worn by supporters.  My guest today, nurse and blogger Mandi, has gone that step further by dyeing her hair teal. Mandi shares with me today her reasons for making her teal blue hair change and why she wholeheartedly supports Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Welcome to the blog Mandi….

My name is Mandi and I am a mother of three wonderful kids, a pediatric nurse, writer and professional hugger. I also happen to be a survivor of rape that happened when I was seventeen.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the USA and the colour teal is the colour of sexual violence prevention. What made you decide to go a step further with the teal and dye your hair? (It looks great, btw)

I started the tradition of dyeing my hair teal for Sexual Assault Awareness Month last year. It is symbolic to me of the fact that sexual assault survivors, like myself, carry the impact of the assault with them everywhere that they go, much like we carry our hair with us always. Many times those who are not survivors seem to have the idea that after the initial hard times immediately following the assault have passed, that a survivor’s life goes back to normal. The truth is that sexual assault changes a person in very profound and personal ways and we are never, ever the same after. We carry the impact of the assault with us twenty-four hours per day for the rest of our lives, it changes us right down to our DNA.

Mandi at 17

The theme of the month this year is that “Prevention is possible” – promoting safe behaviour, thoughtful policies, healthy relationships. What steps do you feel somebody can take to prevent a person from being a victim of sexual assault?

This is a sticky question for me in many ways. After my assault, the questions that were asked to me by both professionals (nurses, police officers, etc) and by laypeople were directed at what I, the survivor, had done. What had I been wearing? Had I been drinking? I want to be very clear in the fact that there is nothing that a victim could have done to have made the rape or assault their fault. We live in a culture that places the burden of sexual assault on the victim and that needs to change. I think that we must continue talking about consent and rape culture in hopes of someday not having a society that seems very accepting of sexual assault in many ways. It isn’t the actions of potential victims that needs to change, it is the actions of the perpetrators that must change. This is why I made the very hard decision of coming out publicly as a survivor of rape last year when I wrote a piece for the Huffington Post entitled ‘A Thank You Letter to My Rapist’. It was honestly one of the hardest and most vulnerable action that I’ve ever taken. After that piece went live, I was shocked by the deluge of messages and e-mails from fellow survivors who wanted to thank me for writing it and wanted to tell me their own stories(many of them telling someone about their rape for the first time). There are so very many survivors in the world, many more than people realize. If we can have public conversations about rape and about how profoundly it impacts those who survive it,I believe that it creates tiny ripples of change and possibly prevents future assaults.

Being a nurse as well as a blogger, what reaction has your hair received being dyed teal? Has it led to some meaningful discussions?

I was actually quite nervous about dying my hair teal because I was worried that it would look unprofessional. I do work in a non-traditional nursing environment as I am a public health nurse who goes into the homes of low-income families to provide support and education so the reaction may be different for me now than it would have been when I worked in a hospital. The population that I work with is very accepting of those who may not subscribe to societal norms, so they have been very accepting and, in fact, one client who was unsure of accepting my services said that she allowed me into her home because of the teal hair which signaled to her that I might be someone that wouldn’t judge her for the ways that she didn’t fit in to society. I have not talked to my clients about why I dyed my hair teal as that would take the focus off of them and onto me and that would be inappropriate. However, in my personal life I have had many conversations with complete strangers so far this month and that has made it very worth the trouble. I also had a co-worker share that she also is a sexual assault survivor and I don’t think that we would have been able to have such an intimate conversation had my hair not triggered the discussion.

Sexual Assault is a public health issue as it ultimately affects women, men children, families and communities. What short term or long term consequences do victims of sexual assault tend to experience and the knock on effect to the people around them?

Before I answer this question I want to take a moment to address that many survivors loathe the term victim and don’t like to use it. I honor that stance and most often use the term survivor. However, I also embrace the term victim for the very reasoning that it was a violent act that changed my life forever. Each survivor will have their own unique experience in the aftermath of their assault. I often think of rape as the a ripple in a pond. That ripple in the water will continue to spread outward farther then we will ever know and impact the survivor and those around them for many years to come. In the immediate aftermath of my own rape the week of my seventeenth birthday, I experienced deep depression, PTSD (I still have mild PTSD symptoms today, 21 years later) and suicidality. I attempted to take my own life multiple times and the last attempt was nearly successful. I was in so much pain that I truly wanted to die. There is no way to describe in words how dramatically the assault impacted my life. The girl that I was before the rape and the girl that I was after were two completely different people.

Donald Trump himself during his election campaign was alleged to have sexually assaulted over 15 women – although he has denied the allegations. Do you think his appointment to presidency and the allegations against him has helped or hindered the work of the Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaigners and supporters?

This is such a tough question. I think that it has both helped and hindered the work of changing rape culture. On one hand, I’ve seen public conversations about sexual assault on a level that I’ve never before seen in my life. On the other hand, I do think that there are some that will have heard the audio tapes of our now president bragging about sexually assaulting women and still being voted in as president and will believe that it must be okay if so many believe that a man, who in his own words bragged about grabbing women’s genitals without consent, can be our nation’s leader. It is a very confusing time to be a survivor. I had very close family members that defended Donald Trump’s words about sexual assault in social media posts that showed up in my feed. It was sickening to realize that they posted those knowing that survivors would see these posts and it would hurt them. Rape culture in many ways is so ingrained that I fear it will be hard to turn the tide and change the way that people think about sexual assault. This election and it’s aftermath has distanced me from family members and friends who I never before would have realized had such ugly beliefs about sexual assault and humanity in general. I have to believe that the ugliness that is being brought forward now is being brought to the surface so that it can be healed. We can not heal, as a nation and as a world, what we do not recognize exists. We are now seeing,in a very public way, just how deep sexual assault stigma and rape culture is. It is now our job to counter that darkness with light and awareness.

Although your hair has been dyed teal for this April campaign, will you keep the colour beyond April? Have you any other hair colour preferences?

The reason for placing the teal in my hair was not for beauty but I’ve found that I absolutely love it. It brings out the blue in my eyes! I am an introvert that doesn’t generally like to call attention to myself, so I doubt that I will keep it but haven’t yet decided. I’m the type of gal that trusts her stylist(Lisa Klein of Hair House in Pleasant Hill, Iowa) so much that I always just plop myself into her chair and tell her to do what she likes, so we shall see what the next color is!

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Do scrubs count? Ha! Sometimes on non-work days I think about wearing my nurse scrubs simply so that I don’t have to think about what to wear! I love shirts with inspirational messages and funky, retro headbands and sunglasses but otherwise don’t have too many fashion preferences. I’m an easygoing kind of girl!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love sites that give to charities when you buy from them. Some of my favorites include Headbands of Hope, Sevenly, Toms and Krochet Kids International.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

A bathing suit for summer that I won’t be embarrassed to wear in public. I think buying a swimsuit each year is my most challenging fashion purchase each year!

Boots or Shoes?

I pretty much live in either my nursing clogs or flip-flops. This may be the worst answer to this question that you’ve ever had! I call shoes “foot prisons” and would actually live in my bare feet if it were socially acceptable.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about your blog & Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

I hope that anyone reading this who may be a survivor that is struggling will head over to RAINN to learn more and seek out help, if needed. I want to tell you that you may be suffering now, but there is hope on the other side of this pain. Never stop seeking out the help that you need. You are needed in the world. So much love to all of those in the world who are struggling through this right now.

Here is a link to the article in the Huffington Post that I referenced earlier. Don’t let the title scare you- it isn’t really a thank you letter to my rapist, it’s a thank you letter to myself for the finding the strength to survive. In the immediate days after assault it can feel as though the pain will never end. If you are in the midst of the excruciation aftermath of assault, please know that it does get so much better.

Here is my humble blog(http://thezenrn.blogspot.com/). I love to connect with others that may be survivors or are doing work for prevention and awareness of sexual assault. My readers remind me that the world can be a beautiful place, even though terrible things happen to many of us daily. I’m also very active on my facebook page and, as an introvert, love to connect with others while sitting on my own couch(https://www.facebook.com/thezenrnblog/)!

Thank you Mandi for giving us an account of your experiences and for showing how people can get behind the sexual assault awareness campaign to make a big difference.  Dear readers, have you ever done anything to highlight a campaign you believe in so deeply? Have you dyed your hair like Mandi or sky jumped for charity?  Do share your stories, I’ll love to know…..

Linda x

Photos of Mandi have been published with permission of Mandi Redhead.

The Pinterest photo was taken by Linda Hobden and is an exhibit from the Musee de l’insolite, in Sauliac-sur-Cele in France.

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An Interview With Living Streets

May is National Walking Month in the UK and there couldn’t be a better time to keep fit than to enjoy walking and doing those 10,000 steps in the Spring sunshine, with our fitbits synchronised.  In fact, the Fitbit has become so popular over the last year or so and closing those “circles” or getting the 10,000 steps fireworks  a day can become rather addictive.  And what a good addiction to have!  Living Streets is a UK charity championing everyday walking and I was lucky enough to interview Tanya Braun from the charity about walking …. welcome Tanya!

Hi! I’m Tanya Braun and I’m the media and communications manager at Living Streets which means I’m in charge of promoting walking, why it’s great and how we can help people do more of it!

Living Streets is a UK charity championing everyday walking. When was the charity founded? What are the aims of the charity?

We were first set up back in 1929 when we were known as the Pedestrians’ Association. In the early days our campaigning led to the UK’s first zebra crossing and the introduction of speed limits. Today we face new challenges, but our work is as important as ever.We want to create a walking nation, free from congested roads and pollution, reducing the risk of preventable illness and social isolation and making walking the natural choice. We believe that a walking nation means progress for everyone. Our ambition is to get people of all generations to enjoy the benefits that this simple act brings and to ensure all our streets are fit for walking.

May is National Walking Month and Living Streets are urging the public to “Try20” – encouraging people to walk 20 minutes every day throughout May & to observe the big differences small steps can make. What are the those differences?

Physical activity is important to stay healthy, and walking is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get active, it’s also really easy to fit into our everyday lives – walking to the shops, skipping a stop on public transport or taking a lunchtime walk. Walking helps to prevent weight gain; chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer; and has been shown to reduce depression. Plus with more people walking their short everyday journeys, there are fewer cars on our roads which reduces congestion and harmful levels of air pollution. We first ran Try20 for National Walking Month in 2016, over 7000 people pledged to take part and we had stories back of people feeling fitter, losing weight, saving money and seeing more people – lots of big differences from small steps!

There is walking and walking! Solid quick walking obviously would increase fitness but what benefits would walking on the school run reap?

The Chief Medical Officer recommends that adults are active for 150 minutes per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more, to stay healthy. Many people don’t realise that walking counts and so choosing to walk some – or all – of the way to school is an easy way to get these minutes adding up. It doesn’t have to be a race; to make the most of the health benefits of walking, we should be walking at a speed at which our breathing rate and heartbeat increases but we can still carry on a conversation – perfect walk to school pace.

For 2017 Living Streets have commissioned an extensive survey to find the best cities for walking judged on a range of criteria, including safety, air pollution and street clutter. Has a winner been announced yet? If not, who is in the running?

In the running are the top 10 largest UK cities by population: Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, London, Liverpool and Sheffield. We’ll be announcing the winner in May so watch this space!

When I was in Rome I walked everywhere in the city centre – it is a compact city. For UK, I was quite impressed with Bath – I walked everywhere there too, mainly because the traffic jams were horrendous and it was quicker to walk to my destination than take the bus! Which cities inside & outside of the UK do you think are pretty walkable?

I always like an excuse to take a trip to our Edinburgh office because it’s so easy to get around there on foot and the views are amazing when you do. The public transport links are great and they’ve recently introduced 20mph limits in built up areas so it all feels a lot safer – hiring a car when I’m up there never has to cross my mind! Melbourne in Australia has been classed as one of the world’s most liveable cities. They’ve had a ‘Local Connectivity Plan’ since 2014 which aims to build a network of neighbourhoods with access to social, leisure and retail facilities within a 20 minute walk of people’s home. I’ve not been myself but my colleague has and she loved how easy it was to get around on foot and how accessible everything was. I was lucky enough to hear Janette Sadik-Khan speak recently, she was New York City’s transportation commissioner and oversaw some historic changes to the city’s streets to make them more people-friendly, including closing Broadway to cars in Times Square. There’s lots of great stuff going on around the world which we can learn from to help us put people before vehicles in our cities.

Although the whole of May is dedicated to walking, which key events will be held to help fundraise for future walking projects etc?

Tuesday 16th May is Happy Shoesday! On the Tuesday of Walk to School Week in May each year, primary school pupils, parents and teachers across the country raise money for our walking projects, by wearing their happy shoes and donating £1. Shiny, decorated, colourful, cartoon, gorilla feet – whatever brings that smile on their walk to school. We’re more than happy for anyone to take part and join in on social media #HappyShoesday – I’ll certainly be wearing my Happy Shoes to work! You can find out how to join the fun on our website: https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/happyshoesday

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing when off for your 20 minute walk?

Lots of people say they can be put off walking by the weather but I always say, it’s not about the weather; it’s about what you wear! So, if rain is forecast I make sure I’m prepared and it’ll usually be a pair of boots – a simple pair of black leather boots, normally.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

For the High Street, I love Zara – and I’m a bit of an asos-fiend. The great thing about being based in East London is that on my way to the station, I pass a range of independent shops where I can always pick up something a bit different.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Jimmy Choos – if/when I become a millionaire! Until then, the nicer weather is as much of an excuse as I need to pick up a few new bits when I get inspired. I’ve got a couple of friends’ weddings coming up so I’m on the look-out for some nice dresses.

Boots or Shoes?

I definitely own more boots so it’ll have to be boots.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Living Streets & National Walking Month.

www.livingstreets.org.uk/nationalwalkingmonth
Follow us on Twitter @livingstreets or join in the conversation with #Try20

Thanks Tanya for the great tips to get everybody motivated and walking, wherever you are in the world!  I do love walking around the seawall that surrounds my village although it is a walk I don’t really do often enough – my husband puts me to shame as he does the 5+ mile walk on a daily basis! Dear readers, do you love walking? Have you got any favourite walking spots? Do share your views, I’d love to know.

Linda x

All main photos are published with kind permission from Living Streets. The Fitbit pin picture was taken by myself.

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An Interview With Ruth Emily Davey (RED Shoes)

From Machynlleth in Wales, my guest this week is the lovely shoemaker Ruth Emily Davey who has been making handcrafted shoes designed to last for over 12 years. She began shoemaking when she was apprenticed to designer shoemaker Alan James Raddon – she still makes Alan’s designs under licence as well as having a range of her own designs too. In 2016 she travelled to Mexico and Japan to investigate the passing down of shoemaking techniques between master and apprentice; in 2013 she won a QEST scholarship to study more about tweed on the Isle of Lewis; plus she has trained to be a reflexologist so she really does know how to create shoes that benefit your feet.  I caught up with Ruth recently to find out more. Hi Ruth….

Hi! My name is Ruth Emily Davey. I am a Shoemaker, trading under my label Ruth Emily Davey or RED Shoes. I make footwear for people from all walks of life from my shop in Machynlleth, Wales which I opened in May 2016. My shoes are made to the unique shape of your feet, so they are broad in the toe box, narrow under the arch and flat, which is much better for your body. They are made from bespoke Italian leathers which last for years and years and are repairable too.

What was the inspiration behind your venture into shoemaking?

I am from an art based background, so I had just finished 3 years of Art college and was a bit unsure of what to do next, lots of my friends were going on to university and I felt like I wanted to do something much more creative and hands on instead of spending hours writing about conceptual art projects. It’s all about who you know in Wales and Alan was a friend of a friend and my mum had heard he was looking for an apprentice. I went to see him, we clicked and it began as an informal apprenticeship which developed into a 5 yeas of learning how to make shoes and also how to run a business (Alan left his successful career in advertising to begin life in Wales in the 1970s). This was 12 years ago so I have been making shoes independently of Alan for 7 years. I have won several awards for my work which has really helped boost my business. I am a Balvenie Young master of craft, a QEST Scholar and a WCMT fellow and I have been on judging panels with Kevin McCloud, all of which has helped me on my way.

You still produce shoemaker Alan James Raddon’s designs under licence as well as having your own range of designs. What styles are popular requests?

So I had the need to breathe individuality into my work as well as continue the legacy of Alan’s designs after I had finished my apprenticeship and so I made a range of boots which are really popular amongst my own age group. The Shandals®, which are Alan’s creation are timeless and people of all ages wear them all over the world as they are so unique looking and really good for the feet.

Have you got a favourite style from your collection?

I have been busy making a collection of footwear using handwoven cloth from my travels and I love the combinations of leather and fabrics together, I am greatly inspired by colour.

Early in 2016 you were awarded the Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship which enabled you to visit both Mexico & Japan to investigate the passing down of techniques between master & apprentice. What were the most interesting/ surprising things that you learnt whilst in Mexico & Japan? Do you use any techniques/ideas that you learnt whilst abroad in your shoemaking nowadays?

The trip was one of the best times of my life. I got to visit small indigenous weavers in Mexico and amazing craftspeople all over Japan that continue the work of their ancestors. I learned so much about what craftsmen and women put into their work and it reaffirmed the reason why I believe making things are such an important part of our skills as human beings. I also learned a lot about the passing on of skills and how important it is to bring forward the work of our past. Like here in the UK, for example, we have a kind of devotion to the handmade product but there is masses of infrastructure to encourage us to bring workmanship from abroad instead of employing the hands of people here. It means there are thousands of young people with no skill sets and as time goes on people are becoming emptyhanded and a bit depressed. Skills are becoming lost or forgotten and I think that is criminal. There needs to be way more support for individual apprenticeships to bring back the revival of cottage industry. Children need to be taught hands on skills and creative education needs to be brought back into education to bring forward a new generation of makers and creative thinkers.

Which famous person would you love to see as the “face” of RED?

That’s a good question! Hmm Natalie Portman because she has nice feet! And I always wanted to get a power woman like Alex Polizzi in my shoes, I always see so many celebrities teetering around in high heels and their feet are so squashed it must be excruciating! I always think they would look so much better in shoes that are the right shape for their feet and COMFORTABLE so they can feel grounded and powerful and their toes would look so much better!

Looking ahead to Spring/Summer 2017 – what new colours/styles do you hope to introduce?

I can make shoes in pretty much any colour and I love seeing outside inspirations coming through people’s choices, so someone can walk into the shop and choose combinations that I would never have expected to go together or they might have always dreamed about a pair of scarlet brogues or sapphire blue suedes and it’s an amazing feeling to be able to fulfil that inner desire. I recently made a pair of bright red/yellow/green brogues for a woman in her 60s who was determined to turn heads as she walks down the high-street. I love making shoes for men and and women of all ages, from all sorts of backgrounds.

Although you are based in Wales, are your shoes & boots available to purchase overseas?

I am based in Wales but have a postal order service so you can send your measurements and I post you a fitting. This means you can order my shoes from anywhere in the world. I have several customers in the USA and Australia and all over Europe. It’s always nice to meet the person you are making shoes for though and this week a lady from Sweden came all the way to my workshop to order her shoes in person.

You won a QEST scholarship in 2013 which helped you to study more about tweed on the Isle of Lewis and also enabled you to train as a reflexologist. How important was it to you that you trained in reflexology and how has it helped with your shoe designing?

I think Reflexology is such a fascinating and deeply ancient practise, I wanted to learn more about the feet from a holistic perspective and the course has been great at really understanding how important the feet are and how many ailments can be targeted through reflexes in the feet. We so often bundle the feet into shoes that are totally immovable; we have lost the connection we should have to the earth and as a result SO many problems begin with the feet. You only have to walk barefoot in grass for 10 minutes a day to feel the benefits and although I am a shoemaker I tend to be barefoot as much as possible!

With travel on my mind, if you could visit any other place to study footwear/shoemaking or just to gain inspiration – where would it be and why?

So many places… I would love to go back and spend 6 months solidly learning how to make traditional Huarches in Mexico (one day..) and in terms of fabrics there is some really interesting places all over the middle east, India and Africa. One day I will have made shoes from fabrics from every continent in celebration of the work of craftspeople all over the world.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I can normally be found wearing boring black suede ankle boots despite having access to literally any shade of any colour under the sun.. but I love unusual designers and cuts in clothing that are really original so you know you are the only one wearing it.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (apart from your own!)

My friend Haley Trezise is a great designer with unique style, see www.raggedyrags.co.uk

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I only wear my own shoes, I have tried other shoe designs that I like but it just feels wrong! I love quite understated but unusual clothes but often don’t have time to search for them. I am 8 months pregnant right now so all I am looking for are nice stretchy clothes at the second!

Boots or Shoes?

I find a short ankle boot goes with nearly everything. I also have a pair of gold brogues which I love wearing at the moment.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about you & your footwear.

www.ruthemilydavey.co.uk

www.facebook.com/ruthemilydavey

www.instagram.com/ruthemilydavey

http://twitter.com/RuthEmilyDavey

PHOTO TO PIN LATER:

 

Thank you Ruth for joining me on the blog today and I hope all goes well with the birth.  I love the bright colours and I do so love the Shandal … in fact I would like all the shoes in your photos! 🙂 So, dear readers, what colour combinations would you go for? For me, a combination of turquoise, teal & cobalt blue would be my choice.  What about you? Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission of Ruth Emily Davey.

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An Interview With Henrik Jeppesen

I love travelling. I am an avid armchair traveller too – watching documentaries about far away places, reading travel blogs and magazines like National Geographic. As a child I used to look at my globe and atlas for hours on end. Maps fascinated me – still do.  So this week I’m pleased to welcome onto the blog somebody whose Facebook page fills me with delight when a new photo or update is posted. He has made being a traveller a profession.  He has visited every single country in the world.  He has lots of stories to tell.  And he has taken time out of his busy schedule to chat to me! Welcome to the blog, Henrik Jeppesen! ….

On the island of Socotra

Hi! I’m Henrik, 28 years old. I’ve spent 3,000+ days to visit every country in the world.

From 2006 to 2016 you have visited every country in the world. What made you decide that you wanted to do that?

Inspired by watching TV and foreign films about the different countries around the world. Then I set a goal of visiting 50 countries and then 100 countries. I decided to go for all of them as I became more comfortable travelling.

I was a geography geek as a child (still am) with my head in an atlas or in a guidebook – I’m quite happy being an armchair traveller (reading & watching TV programmes) as well as exploring the world for myself. Did you have a fascination with countries as a small child?

Don’t remember exactly when it started, but might have been my early teenage years. Liked geography in school as it was one of the few things I liked about going to school.

You grew up in Denmark, so apart from your own country, what was the first country you visited?

Must have been a short trip to Germany. The first big trip on my own was to Egypt when I was 17.

Have you got any favourite destinations and why are they specifically at the top of your list?

Many favourites for different reasons. South Africa, New Zealand and Italy are three. South Africa as it has so much to offer. New Zealand for the beautiful nature and Italy for the food.

What place is your least favourite and why?

My driver went to prison in South Sudan for taking a photo of me in front of a building. They wanted to throw me into prison as well, but after they checked my camera, they let me go.

Corinthia Hotel Khartoum, Sudan 2013

We all have preconceived ideas of what a country will be like – what country totally took you by surprise and was totally opposite of what you thought it would be?

There are many, but Rwanda would be one of them. I had very low expectations, but it’s a surprisingly great country that feels well organised. In that part of the world you normally have a bad infrastructure and a lot of problems to deal with as a traveller, but not in Rwanda. It’s such a beautiful country as well. Paying 5 dollars for a bus ticket across the country is one of the best things you can do.

Your current aim is to visit every territory in the world – are you rattling through them at a pace?

No, I am taking it slowly like I did with every country. 3,000 days of travel is a lot and it will take me some time to visit every territory as well.

Rwanda 2013

I love travelling & flying but I hate airports! What’s your favourite and least favourite airports?

Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport, Israel is the worst airport experience. First, I joined the queue for foreigners where they asked me questions that no other airport in the world has asked me. They wanted to see my Eritrea visa, hotel reservation in Eritrea and it just felt like they didn’t believe a word of what I was saying. Horrible and other travellers have had similar experiences. The questions are one thing, but the security is the worst experience I have ever had at an airport. They don’t treat you like a human being and they make you feel so uncomfortable you don’t want to ever visit Israel again. They are searching every single little piece of your bag like no other airport. They are touching you like no other airport is touching you. They wouldn’t allow my brand new Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (a gift from my father), to be in its case for security and as a result, I got scratches on the screen. I complained, but the staff screamed at me and there was nothing to do. If you ever want to visit Israel, make sure you are at the airport three hours before on the way out and prepare for at least a couple of hours of absolute horror.
Favourite: Not sure. I also don’t like airports.

Henrik’s only car accident that happened near Cite Soleil in Haiti, the most dangerous place in the world.

Do you have a favourite mode of travel?

By car in the countryside of countries I like.

Some places are notoriously difficult to enter or are normally closed to outsiders, eg North Korea, Syria, Afghanistan. Which place was the most difficult to enter & how did you manage it? Which place scared you or made you feel most uncomfortable/unsafe?

There are different requirements for visiting the different countries around the world. Equatorial Guinea was really hard but managed to get my visa in Lagos (Nigeria) after writing about myself on a piece of paper. Saudi Arabia is very difficult for tourism so went on a business visa and had Radisson Blu sponsoring it.

North Korea

Let’s talk food. Which country, in your opinion, has the best cuisine so far? And the worst?

Best are Italy and France for sure. Worst was North Korea. I didn’t eat much there as it was just horrible. Thought I couldn’t go wrong with icecream but it was terrible as well.

Has it all been plain sailing or do you have any memorable disasters?

Food poisoning in the Andaman Islands, India. In a destination without luxury hotels, Ixzire (with a Tripadvisor rating of 5) was one of the best options in the Andaman Islands, located between the Indian mainland and Thailand. While the property was fine, the dinner on the first evening was the beginning of the worst six months of my life. A fish curry made me seriously sick where I couldn’t breathe properly. After three days I tried to fly back to the mainland, but it was the worst flight of my life. The cabin crew gave me oxygen and asked for a doctor. I had to lay down for the entire flight. I couldn’t even sit up for landing. I arrived in Chennai, and it took me a week before I was able to fly again. The problems with my breathing ability came back multiple times over the coming months. Lesson learned. Be very careful about what you eat.

Interviewed By Yemen Today

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing when in travelling aeroplane mode?

I travel very light. Jeans, shirt and everyday-use shoes.

Do you go shopping for clothes/accessories whilst travelling? If so, which country was shopping a pleasant or otherwise experience?

I live minimalistic. Everything I own can be in a small backpack. Life for me is not about owning things, but experiences.

Bonaire in the Caribbean, 2013

What items of clothing/footwear/accessories are your “essentials” when travelling?

I try to avoid travelling places where I would need a jacket so I don’t need to travel with much clothes.

Boots or Shoes?  

Shoes. Lightest weight 🙂

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can follow your adventures

You can follow Henrik’s travels and get his tips on Facebook,Twitter, Instagram and his blog.

At the time of this publication, Henrik is currently exploring South Georgia Island – catch his beautiful photos of the island and its beautiful penguin inhabitants.  It certainly is an island that has captured his heart.  Dear readers, what destination is number 1 on your bucket list? Do share your dreams….

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Linda’s travels – Madeira 2016

Linda x

All photos (apart from the pin later photo) have been published with kind permission of Henrik Jeppesen. Photo Credits: HenrikTravel.com;  Pin Later Photo: Linda Hobden 

 

 

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