Tag Archives: yoga

Nicaragua: Volcanoes, Lakes and Drunken Sundays

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Nicaragua was my favourite place, and I can’t really put my finger on why. There was something about the feel of the country, the culture and the colours and the friendliness. Bus boys who didn’t speak a word of English but would try so hard to communicate, laughing and lifting us with our luggage onto old school American ‘chicken buses’. And of course the beautiful landscapes.

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We didn’t visit many cities in Central America, but I’m so glad we chose Granada. It’s a small colonial city, very pretty and colourful with lots of impressive buildings and hidden gems. I could have stayed there longer than two nights, especially because we spent most of our one day taking a day trip to Laguna de Apoyo! This had been highly recommended and for good reason, it’s a beautiful lake with lots of surrounding resorts where you can spend a day relaxing. We paid $5 at San Simian Eco Resort for access to their lounge chairs and facilities, including kayaks and tubes. We took some tubes out to a little platform in the lake and had a great sunbathing sesh. Shortly after our return to mainland, a model and her crew turned up and started shooting yoga photos in the lake which was mildly amusing people watching as she struggled to balance on the floor of rocks. Don’t blame her. The rest of the afternoon was so chilled out, what we needed after lots of travelling, pure bliss!

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Granada had a very zen vibe, so no surprise that lots of yoga was offered there. I squeezed in an 8am slot at Pure Gym which was a tropical paradise and one of the best yoga sessions I’ve done – the teacher even came around during our shavasana and gave us lavender head massages! Jack wasn’t so into the yoga but he met me for breakfast at The Garden Cafe, another beautifully zen location with yummy smoothies. The other foods we sampled weren’t quite so successful as we stuck to the touristy and overpriced La Calzada, but we did have another great breakfast at Kathy’s Waffle House. And although nothing will ever beat the coffee in Monteverde, the Nicaraguan coffee I sampled was close!

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From Granada we took a boat to the volcanic island of Ometepe. The island looks amazing as you approach it across the lake, with the twin volcanoes Concepcion and Maderas looming ahead. We got a taxi to our hotel in Merida with an Irish couple; he dropped us off and told us to walk the rest of the way up the path. 20 minutes later and many near-misses on stumbly rocks we had found our hotel slash farm, Finca Montania Sagrada. The owner was a slightly strange Italian man who had 7 million cats and the cutest newborn puppies, ideal. It was only once we had settled in our hut, the whole island had a power cut and we were about to embark down the treacherous path to seek out dinner in the pitch black, that we realised we might be slightly out of our comfort zone. We found one hotel that seemed vaguely open so we pointed at things on a menu and hoped the extremely unimpressed woman understood. Pasta pesto you rule in all countries.

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We didn’t fancy the volcano hike on our first day so instead we chose to visit the natural springs, Ojo de Agua. We had vague bus instructions and managed to get to the other side of the island, which we thought was a short walk to the springs. One thing about me: maps don’t like me. Definitely not my fault that many times on our travels we ended up walking 20 minutes in the wrong direction. This time my route took us over a stile and through an overgrown plantation, down a muddy path until we emerged at a fence at the back of the springs. As long as we made it to the destination…! The sun hadn’t quite hit the springs yet so they were mightily cool but as soon as it shone through the enclosure of palm trees the pool was a delight. We spent all day just floating in the beautiful water, lazing about and chilling by the edge. After sandwiches at the restaurant we decided to go crazy and purchased rum cocktails in coconuts, a scrummy delight. When in Nicaragua… Apparently we hadn’t learnt our lesson that this island doesn’t do evenings and stayed out far too late eating lasagne by the beach. Almost didn’t make it home but some stilted Spanish got us a man with a car to transport us back, after stopping off to meet all his family members.

The day of Volcan Maderas had arrived, and the look of our fellow guests after their hike did not encourage us. However we ploughed bravely on and followed our guide up the road towards the base of the volcano. Thankfully it wasn’t too hot and we were mainly in shade, but even so, every time our guide said ‘do you need break?’ I was like THANK GOD YES and inhaled a litre of water. This was before we even reached the steep bit. Breathing became something that you had to think about constantly, so much so that I forgot to think about controlling my farts and one slipped out just as Jacks face was in line with my bottom. Soz. It’s one of those situations where life is such a struggle that farting in someones face isn’t a big deal right? No? Okay…

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The path got steeper and steeper so we found walking sticks to assist us, and then it got to the point where we literally had to climb up and over rocks and trees and hold onto branches and pray we didn’t slip. Four hours after we set off, we finally emerged into the crater and oh my was I ready to collapse. Clouds were everywhere and we were all thinking ‘if I don’t get a view and there’s no reward for this torture, then seriously what is life…’ but thankfully they started to thin and we saw the beginnings of a view!

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We stayed up there for a while hoping to see more and luckily everything cleared and we saw some amazing views across the island to Volcan Concepcion, as well as into the crater itself. I would have happily stayed up there all day seeing as my legs were absolutely gone but our guide was all ‘yeah we gotta go back’. Meh. Downhill is always bad on the knees but nothing was going to be as bad as the climb up so I enjoyed it comparatively. Finally we made it back to our hut, having completed probably the hardest thing of my life. Proud. Never again.

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That was enough Ometepe for us so we took the boat the next day to the mainland and got a short taxi ride over to San Juan del Sur, ready for a bit of beach time and the infamous Sunday Funday. HC Liri was one of the nicest hotels we stayed in, big clean rooms, a fantastic pool and a cheeky hammock. We spent our Saturday walking up the beach and through the town markets, and settled at a beach restaurant with fabulous shrimp and happy hour cocktails. The sunset over the beach looked glorious from our little wooden balcony!

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Then came the big Sunday… 9:30am may seem an early start to an all day drinking sesh, but apparently that’s the way things go over here. We turned up at Hostel Pachamama to buy our wristbands and then headed out for a line-the-stomach brekkie whilst things were being set up. Barrio Cafe ended up being my favourite place for food, admittedly not a particularly Nicaraguan cuisine, but they had amazing Eggs Royale with fantastic sauteed potatoes, and a nutella mocha frappe. Oh wow. I actually made myself so full that the first few beers back at Pachamama were a bloaty struggle. But powering through…

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The hostel filled up gradually as people got the drinks in and gathered around the pool. I was so surprised to see the crazy amount of travellers after bumping into barely any during our trip so far – Sunday Funday must be where they all combine! I bumped into my friend from uni which was utterly random but great! However this was just the warm up, an announcement was made for the start of the pool crawl and we all stumbled down the road to Hotel Anamar.

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This was the real party – pool by the beach, crazy tunes, and a man with spray tattoos including 1D (Jacks first choice of course). A randomer at the bar introduced us to rum and water with lime and we didn’t look back. At $2 a drink they were most certainly flowing. Just before sunset it was time to move on again so we piled into the back of trucks and took the scenic route up the hill to Naked Tiger hostel. The location was amazing – views over the hills down to the coast, with a pool overlooking it all. We took a dancing break and chilled in the pool for a while, then as the evening truly set in the pool patio became a packed dancefloor with the DJ cracking out bangers like Sandstorm. All of the wet wiggling.

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The final destination of the night (after another bumpy truck ride, this time significantly more drunken) was Arribas bar. I have to say my memories are not crystal clear but from the snapchat story it seems like we had a great time and made many many friends. Jack even found someone to get low with him when T-swizzle came on. Being that drinking had now been occurring for somewhere in the region of 12 hours, most people drifted off as the bar started closing. Not us. We got questionable pizza and sat on the floor of the bar as the lovely Nicaraguan man cleaned around us. Finally we started the walk to our hotel but on the way spied the Crazy Crab which appeared to be a very not closed and exciting bar. I’m surprised we had any money left but we somehow paid the $5 entry fee to this locals club and carried on dancing the night away. By this point Jack had lost his flip flops and was very confused about it but they were a lost cause so he went back to the wiggling. Conclusion: Sunday Funday is the best, and we rule at life. Maybe a smidgen past perfect drunk but most certainly hilarious drunk.

Monday was of course a write off, we went in search of food and ended up with broccoli pizza which was so upsetting I can’t even explain. Pool, sleep and more food in preparation for our departure from San Juan the next day. Nicaragua was equal amounts of fun and ridiculous experiences, plus so many beautiful relaxing moments. We were sad to leave, but ready for our next adventure! (With just a 4 day journey in between…)

25 Things About 24-Year-Old Me

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At the end of last year I reflected on a list I had made (on Facebook notes, asif that was a thing) when I was 18, entitled 25 things about me. It was quite hilarious, very cringe and completely me. Now I’m almost half way through 24-year-old-ness I thought it might be fun to come up with 25 things about me and see how they’ve changed (chances are not much…):

1. I’m secretly a bit of a gangsta, getting low to 90s hip hop is one of my favourite pastimes.

2. I love eating good foods and believe all social occasions should be centred around meals. Fajita nights just cannot be equalled.

3. I also love baking but I’m actually quite bad at it. Exhibit A: brookies. Exhibit B: cake that volcano erupted all over the oven. Let’s blame my inherent kitchen failure nature.

4. I wish I could play guitar and be in one of those edgy cool girl bands that don’t exist.

5. I choose to surround myself with people who match my weirdness and find my quirks hilarious rather than judging them.

6. Life is too short not to stay up until 6am on the weekend when you’re having all the fun.

7. I can’t not buy anything with elephants on.

8. I love the way yoga makes you forget about life’s business.

9. I wish I could genuinely meditate.

10. I should probably live in a country where I can eat falafels everyday and have all the bohemian materials and decors.

11. I spend all the moneys on holidays and festivals. My future self will most likely resent this, but present self doesn’t care. Summer ❤️

12. I like making videos, probably a bit too much. Who doesn’t love re-watching their most drunken moments?

13. Vodka makes me forget my life.

14. I’ve adopted a tradition of getting piercings to celebrate things. Let’s hope I don’t have too many more celebrations as the remaining piercing areas don’t seem particularly appealing..

15. I don’t like the lord of the rings. I’m sorry, I tried. I’m just a Harry Potter gal through and through.

16. I am a major nerd when it comes to sporcle quizzes on Harry Potter and Friends.

17. Ross is the best friends character and I can’t believe I haven’t realised this until now. L-o-v-e love.

18. I wish I could simultaneously travel the world and stay in London with all my fabulous friends. Both these things would make my heart happy.

19. I suffer from a serious case of word vomit. I will often impart far too much information and weirdness to new people.

20. I’m still a child. I love nothing more than playing games, laughing all day at nothing in particular, and being as silly and ridiculous as possible.

21. My sister and I will never be too old for doing hand clapping things as we walk and taking surprise ugly face photos.

22. Dimples and cable knit jumpers are the one 👌

23. I am apparently gangly in nature and have been compared to the blow up man that flails in the wind outside car warehouses.

24. I am always actually the drunkest. This is probably due to my love of doing all the shots. Luckily I am a happy drunk (you might say perfect) so I like to think being the drunkest just adds hilarity to my friends lives.

25. I am always the hostess. I will never stop being that person that throws all the house parties and BBQs and dinners and film nights and tea mornings and dominoes afternoons.

I’ve just read through my 18-year-old self again and there is a freakish amount of similarity. I might be in a different stage of life but the things that make me ‘me’ have not changed much at all. I’m still a weirdo who loves Harry Potter, doing childish things and throwing all the parties. Loving life.

Having a beach bod just isn’t worth the lack of biscuits

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One of the most prominent things at the forefront of our minds this time of year is getting that all important beach bod in the lead up to summer. And associated beach holidays. The sun has barely peeped out from behind the English clouds, yet we become obsessed with healthy eating and exercise routines and all sorts of emerging alternative methods for slimming down and toning up. But is this nightmare we put ourselves through really worth it? Chances are we won’t get around to starting any sort of healthy routine until it’s inevitably too late to make a difference anyway. So why all the fuss for such little success?

Personally, I was feeling sluggish after the long winter and thought aspiring towards a beach bod would give me a good goal, get me off the sofa, and hopefully be a step towards healthy living. So I signed up for bikram yoga. I made plans to go on regular runs. I started a 30 day abs youtube challenge. I planned to cut out sugar, caffeine, fast food; I even went as far as researching which fruits were unhealthy. Surely all fruits are healthy?! Seriously, this was almost as bad as the time I decided to eat only brown rice for 2 weeks (let’s not go into the ramifications of that silly idea). The first few days I was energised and revitalised, constantly reassuring myself that this was a great plan and I was going to feel amazing.

As you can probably imagine, it didn’t last much longer than that. I promptly gave up regular running after realising that I spent my whole day dreading the evening run, and what kind of way of life is it to spend your days dreading what has yet to occur? The bikram yoga lasted longer; I actually enjoyed the classes but motivating myself to get off my bum and leave the house was always tricky. Having got myself there 3 times a week, my muscles ached and I felt so weak I could barely lift an arm (great demonstration of my fitness levels). I’m sure if I pushed past the pain and kept going I might truly feel the benefits, but unfortunately my 20-day trial has now ended and I’m just too cheap to pay £15 a class. So that’s the end of that. I could carry on with my 30-day ab routine (which is more like every-other-day or twice-a-week for me); Sarah and Scott are extremely excitable and assure me that I will have rock hard abs (or A.B.S. as my boss calls them) in no time. But is there really much point doing ab exercises when I’m doing absolutely nothing else? I thought not.

So with exercise down to zero, a healthy diet should be more important than ever. And don’t get me wrong, I love a salad as much as the next girl. I’m a real foodie and get a kick out of good and proper healthy foods, superfoods, vegetables and all that jazz. But I’m also a real sweet tooth, and to be honest life just isn’t worth living without a biscuit to dunk in my tea at the end of the day. I attempted to give up baked goods for lent and it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve done. I don’t normally eat chocolate but I found myself constantly buying chocolate bars to make up for the void left in my life by a lack of biscuits. I’m just a cookie person and have to accept this. I once said to my friend, in the most serious manner possible: “I think I am the cookie monster.” If I’m going to bake anything it will more often than not be cookies, and as many varieties as possible. I even have a special biscuit pocket at the front of my mug (don’t worry, it fits more than one biscuit) – what would I do with the biscuit pocket and no biscuits? Surely the mug would feel empty and incomplete?

Nifty Biscuit Pocket

Nifty Biscuit Pocket

We can have the best intentions of turning over a new leaf, exercising every day, and never snacking. But we slip up for one moment and it’s over and we delay it to next week. And then the week after. How about we realise that life is about balance and we need a bit of naughtiness interspersed into our attempt at a healthy routine. Everyone has their own guilty pleasures – but even this statement is contradictory and a representation of our obsession with eating healthily and getting fit. Biscuits are my pleasure, and erase the guilty. I have the right to sit down with a tea and some biscuits at the end of a hard day (or the end of every day). And I’m not going to let society’s apparent need to conform to a picture perfect bikini body and the unnatural lifestyle that comes with it take that right away from me.