A little bit of sunshine

Sunshine on a Mediterranean island

A little late summer sunshine on a Mediterranean island never hurt anyone, right? In September I spent a few sunny days back home. It was a really lovely holiday!


I was there mainly to attend a family wedding and spend time with my mum and grandma, but The Boy and I combined that with a short stay in a small fishing village. I think we managed to strike the perfect balance between family time and relaxation by the sea. For me, most of the family obligations are a bit of a drag, but it’s always fun to see things through The Boy’s eyes. Instead of thinking of it as “yet another extended family dinner”, I suspect he sees it as “a large gathering of loud people with impossible quantities of food” which is way more entertaining.

Our time by the sea was fantastic! We accidentally found ourselves staying in a “hippie” hotel that offered a full timetable of yoga, pilates, and meditation classes every day, which I definitely took advantage of. Other than that, we spent our days swimming and reading and soaking up the sunshine, alternating between the beach and the pool. Pure bliss! We had our dinner at a seafood place on the marina every night; I don’t think there’s anything better than fish and seafood straight from the boat, cooked in the simplest way and enjoyed right by the sea. I made friends with all of the marina cats as well, and I think they quite enjoyed dinnertime too!

I didn’t take that many pictures during our holiday, but I thought I’d post some of my favourite ones here. Just in case the weather where you are is grey & miserable like it is in Oxford today and you need a dose of Mediterranean sunshine!

Sunshine on a Mediterranean island

Sunshine on a Mediterranean island

Sunshine on a Mediterranean island

Sunshine on a Mediterranean island

Sunshine on a Mediterranean island


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When life takes over

So… It has been a while, hasn’t it? The last few months have been a bit of a roller coaster ride for me and it’s been quite hard to find balance. Actually, I’m still struggling to fit everything in without going crazy.

I thought I would update you with everything that’s been going on in my life.

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PhD

I had my PhD viva at the start of August. In typical fashion, I procrastinated all through July and didn’t really start preparing for it until the week before. I felt confident that I could answer any questions about what I did during my PhD, and be able to justify it. However, I was a bit worried terrified about having to answer more general questions, after all there is no specified study material for a PhD defence, anything and everything goes. As the big day approached I started getting more and more nervous about it, and I was having ridiculous nightmares every night.

In the end, the viva was far easier than I expected; it was an almost pleasant 2.5-hour chat with two experts in my field. I cannot describe the feeling of relief and joy that I felt when, after a few minutes of the horrible agony of waiting, they announced their decision that I should be awarded a PhD. It was one of the best moment of my life! I suddenly felt as if a huge weight was lifted and I’m fairly certain I’ve been a little bit taller since.

I am now pretty much ready to hand in my thesis with final corrections included, and I’m looking forward to seeing it bound, all pretty and important looking. And that will be it for my PhD.

Work

Continuing in the theme of “All my dreams are coming true!”, I now have a job. A proper job, with a salary and everything. It all happened so fast! Actually, I had my second interview with this small start-up just two days after passing my PhD viva, and then I had the job offer by the end of that week. Insane! I keep telling The Boy, a year ago everything felt slow and difficult and heavy, as if I had to move through honey, while now everything is just falling into place and happening so fast. I love it!IMG_20151023_173815

I started at my new job in September and so far it’s been going really well. My role is varied and interesting, I’m given quite a lot of independence and freedom to take my own initiative which I really like. As if that’s not enough, my commute is a 6-minute cycle ride to the centre of Oxford. How awesome is that? Ok, I’m going to stop now because I feel a bit silly gushing about the whole thing.

Life
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We said goodbye to the summer by spending 3 days in the glorious Cotswolds countryside at The Big Feastival. It was so amazing! It was 3 days of great food, fantastic music, and fun activities. It felt like a brilliant way to mark the end of my student life and the beginning of a new era.

I went back home for a little holiday in September, which you would have seen if you are following me on Instagram. It was the perfect combination of family time, including a super-fun family wedding, great seafood, and relaxation. I did take about a million pictures, which I will try to share on here. I returned from holiday feeling rested and really quite excited to properly settle into my new routine and find a balance between all the things I have to do and want to do every day.

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This is something I’m still working on. Working at a proper job is a lot more structured than writing my thesis was, so that took a bit of adjusting. I started adding a bit of exercise every week, I’m doing yoga every morning and then some kind of exercise (or just going for a walk in the countryside) after work a couple of days a week. Of course, now with the clocks going back it gets dark so early, I’ll have to change my routine but, oh well.

I also took up knitting, after attending a Wool and the Gang workshop at The Big Feastival. My first project was a soft and warm grey snood, which I’ve been wearing a lot recently. I’m now working on a slightly longer project, a beautiful blue scarf, which required me to learn a couple more stitches. I find knitting very relaxing and it’s great to get to wear something that I made.
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Um, what else?

Oh yes! Just last week I heard that the commercial license to one of my photos was sold on EyeEm market. So incredible! It’s not really a way to make much money, but it’s such a nice feeling. And really, I remember I took that picture on a glorious day during a walk in Wytham woods, so making any money for it is the cherry on the cake. It’s this picture, if you are curious to see it.

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Another pretty exciting thing is that The Boy and I felt inspired to make some positive changes in our diet. We try to make our weekday meals healthy and nutritious, and perhaps most importantly we have more sensible portions. Then the weekends are more free and indulgent. It’s all about balance. We’ve both noticed increased energy levels and a general feeling of wellness since, which is fantastic. I’ll try to make a separate post about it, at some point.

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Of course, that depends on whether I manage to find time to actually blog again. I really want to get back at it, so it’s just a matter of prioritising it, as I know people a lot more busy than me find the time to blog.

And I think that’s pretty much it for me. What have you been up to? Let’s catch up in the comments, or link up any great blog posts that I missed, I’m really very keen to get back to the blogosphere.

Speak to you soon!

A Cornish holiday – The Eden Project

A visit to the Eden project was on top of my list for our Cornish holiday. I had heard so many great things for this unique place and was really keen to see it. It is set in a big crater, the rather desolate remains from a no-longer used clay pit. It went through an incredible transformation and it is now a destination dedicated to environmentally-friendly agriculture, living in balance with nature, and sustainability.

The Eden project consists of two massive biodomes, surrounded by outdoor gardens, fields, and even small-sized woodlands. The Tropical and the Mediterranean Biomes really dominate the landscape, they definitely made me feel like I had found myself in a sci-fi film. We caught glimpses of them while wandering around the outdoor gardens which felt a bit surreal.

The Eden project, Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

The Eden project, Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

The Eden project, Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

Outside, we found gardens designed to evoke memories and tantalise the senses. I loved the sweet-smelling, pink rose walk, the fields of daisies, the picture perfect cottage garden, and the Cornish woodland walks. The Boy was quite taken by the hops and barley fields because beer is high up on his list of interests.

The Eden project, Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

The Eden project, Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

The Eden project, Cornwall@ alittleadventure.net

The Eden project, Cornwall@ alittleadventure.net

Going inside the Mediterranean Biome felt like I had gone back home. The scent of thyme and rosemary, the citrus trees, the olive groves, the little hillside vineyards, the bright saturated colour of the bougainvillea, the little sparrows fluttering around, the warmth on my skin. Everything felt so lovely and familiar.

The Eden project, Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

The Eden project, Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

The Eden project, Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

The Eden project, Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

And then we were off to the tropics. The Tropical Biome hosts the largest rainforest “in captivity” in the world. It is a vast indoor jungle, including a waterfall, colourful tropical birds, coffee and cacao plants, and all sorts of nut and spice plants. I loved walking among the tall palm trees, seeing the African totems, peeking inside the south Pacific wooden huts, and then taking in the great view from the canopy walkway. I wasn’t so keen on the humidity though, my hair was rather frizzy and scary by the end but it was a small price to pay.

The Eden project, Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

The Eden project, Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

The Eden project, Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

The Eden project, Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

We spent the whole day at the Eden project and it was such a wonderful visit. It was so incredible to see how an ugly and deserted crater was transformed into a place simply bursting with life. The Eden project is certainly a thought-provoking, inspiring place, but it’s also just so much fun. I think visiting would be a great experience for people of all ages, I’ve been recommending to absolutely everyone since we’ve been back. And I certainly can’t wait to go back again!

A Cornish holiday – Along the coast

The incredibly varied landscape along the Cornish coast really took me by surprise. I expected to only find rocky cliffs and dark blue, choppy seas. But it was so much more than that!

The south coast was much more tame than what I imagined. The climate is quite mild and so wildflower meadows and shady woods reach the edge of the cliffs. It was so lovely to walk along paths shaded by tall trees with gentle waves tickling the rocks down below. There are beautiful little coves with sheltered sandy beaches; in my experience these were excellent places to look for sea shells carried on the shore by the tide. The weather during our stay was perfect, and so the blue sea looked very peaceful and inviting – if only it wasn’t so cold.

The south coast of Cornwall near Looe @ alittleadventure.net

The south coast of Cornwall near Looe @ alittleadventure.net

Talland Bay on the south coast of Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

The south coast of Cornwall near Looe @ alittleadventure.net

On the north coast, I finally found the significantly more dramatic and wild landscape that I expected. A jagged coast, sharp drops, and deep blue waves crashing on the cliffs. However, that’s not the whole story. The water in some sheltered bays was so clear and turquoise and calm, it practically urged me to jump in.

Perhaps the greatest surprise for me was the Atlantic coast near Padstow, where the river Camel meets the ocean. I never expected to find such beautiful, white sand beaches with the sea exhibiting a wide range of greens and blues. It looked practically tropical! I also found it very interesting to explore the grassy sand dunes along this coast, I loved the contrast of colours provided by the grasses, the wildflowers, the sand, and the sea.

The north coast of Cornwall near Tintagel @ alittleadventure.net

The north coast of Cornwall near Tintagel @ alittleadventure.net

The Atlantic coast near Padstow, Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

The Atlantic coast near Padstow, Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

The Atlantic coast near Padstow, Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

The Atlantic coast near Padstow, Cornwall @ alittleadventure.net

The coast of Cornwall was nothing like I expected and very different to any other place in the UK that I’ve seen. Every day I was amazed at the beauty and wide range of the landscape. I can’t wait to go back someday! Have you ever visited Cornwall? What’s your favourite summer holiday destination?

A Cornish holiday – Fishing ports

I was so very charmed by the fishing towns and villages we’ve visited in Cornwall on our recent holiday. Both on the south and north coast, we found tiny little places, so picturesque and quaint, sitting like jewels in hidden coves with turquoise waters. I loved wandering around their winding -and sometimes very steep- streets and found that watching the fishing boats come and go is greatly relaxing. I also really appreciated being able to practically see my lunch being unloaded from the fishing boat, carried a few dozen steps to the pub kitchen and shortly after that arrive at our table. Fish and seafood, as fresh as it gets!

Here are some pictures from Looe (which is where we stayed), Polperro, Port Isaac, and Padstow. I think all are places worth visiting if you are ever in Cornwall.

Cornish fishing ports @ alittleadventure.net

Cornish fishing ports @ alittleadventure.net

Cornish fishing ports @ alittleadventure.net

Cornish fishing ports @ alittleadventure.net

Cornish fishing ports @ alittleadventure.net

Cornish fishing ports @ alittleadventure.net

Cornish fishing ports @ alittleadventure.net

Cornish fishing ports @ alittleadventure.net

Cornish fishing ports @ alittleadventure.net

Pics 1,2,8,9: Polperro
Pics 3,4,7: Looe
Pic 5: Padstow
Pic 6: Port Isaac