All Hands Volunteering

I have always wanted to volunteer and help out after a disaster so when I heard from my friend Michael that there was a project in Ecuador I thought it was meant to be and decided it was a must to add on to my trip. The girls didn’t really want to volunteer so I said I wanted to go on my own and thought it would be good to split up and have some time apart but they didn’t like the idea so came with me. I said no moaning or arguing and they were both great to be fair and I was glad they came in the end. 

We got the night bus from Quito to Canoa which was the bumpiest and worst ride yet and took 2 hours less than expected a so we got dropped off in what felt like the middle of nowhere at 5.30am. Luckily there was a French girl that was going to meet her friend so she showed us the way to the hostel (she actually took us to Coco Loco and not the Coconut hostel but it was good enough for us. We waited it out like hobos in the garden until it got light and then hitched a lift to the right place up the road. 

The first day we were just at base clearing an overgrown area to make a garden for the staff and tidying and cleaning up base. Afterwards we went in the sea and fell asleep on the beach as we were exhausted. All the staff came back from the day at work and we had to do the whole cringy stand up say your name, where you’re from, why you came etc etc. Everyone at All Hands seemed so nice and welcoming, there’s the odd one on a power trip but I guess you get that everywhere you work. 

The second day we had to get up at 6am to have breakfast and leave by 7am. It was good that us 3 girls were split up into different teams so that we could meet new people. First task I was handed a machete and told to shave the excess off the bamboo to make it flat…I mean yes course I can do that no problem… I was then asked how good I am with a saw… I was like erm well since the few times I used a saw in wood work classes about 12 years ago I would say my saw skills are average. Actually though I wasn’t half bad at it, better than I was at using the machete! I was helping out a girl to finish the walls, drilling and cutting and climbing the scaffolding. It amazed me at what they allowed us to do but the house looked great and was extremely well built. Apparently they last 25 years, they have an upstairs and a separate toilet building out the back, they’re actually really nice and the bamboo structure looks cool. I made a school boy error and went to use the temporary toilet which is a hole in the floor but it absolutely stunk and had all maggots and flies in it, it was disgusting. I was like ewwwww how do they even use that, the volunteers were like yeah it’s rank just go in the bushes! The people who’s house we were building were staying in a temporary shelter next to the new house and cooked us dinner which was really nice. 

On the Saturday we took part in the Olympics games which obviously was held in honour of the recent Olympics in Brazil. It was fun we did loads of different things like javelin and shot put. I think I pulled a ligament being as competitive as I am! (Being competitive and being good are 2 different things can I just add!)  After this we all went out in Canoa and stayed in a hostel because the volunteering place has an 11pm curfew. I got royally fucked up and my Hong Kongnese friend had to drag me back to the hostel which I am very thankful for and apparently neither of us could get the key in the lock. I then spent the next few hours of the morning with my head down the toilet and woke up with no pillow or blanket and Kelly in my bed… Dis-grace never learns!  Sunday was our day off so a very hungover bunch of us went for breakfast and then chilled out all day. 

We decided to head to Manta until Friday where there was another smaller project building a community centre. It was the best decision we had made, we stayed in a tent but it was comfier than being 3 of us on an air bed so when one moved we all moved. The work wasn’t with bamboo but with wood. So straight away we were using power tools, varnishing and hammering wood. We got a lot done and it was hard graft but the team was great and much better being smaller so you could get to know everyone. The base is in the grounds of a church and the vicar guy was clearly gay and so camp but he was so lovely and welcoming. We all played bingo with the church goers, luckily I understand Spanish numbers and I won the base some mugs and saucers woop woop.

 At Manta the staff cook the meals so you take it in turns to be on house keeping. Me and Kelly got put on together which I wasn’t happy about because neither of us can cook. In the morning we cleaned the base and as I was cleaning the toilet and emptying toilet paper bins I thought Jesus I hope you’re watching you better bloody love me for this I could be on a beach somewhere! Neither of us are great at cooking and the most I have ever cooked for is about 5 so cooking for 15 was going to be a challenge. We decided to cook fajitas as that and lasagne is the only thing I am good at. We had a budget of $43 so we went to the market and someone had said go to the back for the chicken… For a second I was faced with the below image and thought omg I am going to have to kill a chicken! Then we looked round and saw luckily this was not the case, but I still had to stick my hand up the chickens backside and pull out the giblets while it had a head and feet still intact, I was gipping and everything it wasn’t a nice experience! I was doing all the bartering because negotiating is part of  my job as a buyer and my Spanish is better than Kelly’s. I said to her ok you look for an avocado…she pointed at a water melon and went hey I’ve found an avocado… Needless to say I took charge of the task haha. With a shaky start I think I did well and everyone liked the food. So we are no Delia Smith and Nigella Lawson but I think we made a good team in the end. 

I wasn’t well the next day and literally it took everything I had to varnish as I had no energy, I just crawled into my tent after work and slept for hours. I felt bad not being sociable seen as though CHarlotte and Kelly were and they hadn’t even wanted to do the volunteering but were thoroughly enjoying it by the end. If you know me well you know that I am a strange one and go through phases where I need to be alone and can’t be social especially if I am really tired. I envy them in a way that they can always be around people but I just like to be on my own reading sometimes. I enjoy my own company what can I say! The next night we went to watch the Ecuador Brazil football game after work which was so much fun! THe girls get so dressed up and there are so many people out watching it, good team and community spirit I wish England was more like this!

We were meant to be leaving on the Friday morning so we said bye on Thursday night…. The girls wanted to stay for tea Friday as some friends from Canoa were coming and cooking… I thought it was too late but I couldn’t be bothered to disagree so we stayed… We then said our goodbyes again and headed off for the bus to Montanita… It was gone 7pm and the buses had stopped so with out tails between our legs we headed back to base to stay the night. We ended up smashed on Rum so I was happy I had had a send off that night and made up for being in bed the day before! I also felt so much better, I’d had a rash on my chest and neck so was worried it may be something more serious but luckily I was ok after sleep and rest. Char was on hair dressing duties so she cut 2 guys hair and corn rowed mine, I love it! So third time lucky we said our goodbyes and headed for Montanita. Time to chill and party now yayyyy it’s well deserved! 

If you get chance I would love it if you can donate please as we are nearly at our target!

Much love OTA xx

Cartagena to Medellin 

After the lost city trek we headed to Cartagena I took the easy option so the guys didn’t moan and we went in style on a $60,000 (Peso) air conditioned mini bus. I always feel like I’m cheating when I take the tourist option and not the local buses but I just wanted an easy life today as I was exhausted. We all sat separately so that we could be with ourselves, I think we had seen enough of each other on the trek. I got sat next to an old Spanish guy and we had a broken Spanish conversation, we seemed to have a right laugh but I had no idea what he was talking about jajaja! 

Cartagena Old Town

So anyway we stayed at La Villana in the old town, the hostel is really cute with hammocks and it has a really friendly chilled out vibe. I got recommended this along with a lot of other things from a friend I am grateful to and strangely miss. The town itself is so pretty, cultured and full of life. I felt safe walking around in the day and at night which was such a nice change to Santa Marta. 

There are loads of little shops and restaurants and horses and carts going around the town. We went for a meal which was really nice I had prawns and they had steak. Then we went out of the tiles for a proper night out. I probably drank too much of the two for one cheap drinks in the hostel and felt a bit pissed so calmed down after that, we went to a roof top party and I was talking to some Brazilian guy being friendly as you do, when he just stuck his tongue down my throat. Luckily he was cute but it was unexpected and unwanted! We then went to Eivissa rooftop bar on the Plaza and managed to swindle our way in for free… A smile goes a long way in any language! We seemed to be palming unwanted guys off left right and centre, well I was trying to dodge them at least. Turns out most of the women were prostitutes so the guys were making a beeline for us because luckily they knew we weren’t looking for guys to pay us for sex. (We do it for free, jokes). The next day I got up early and went to the beach on my own. I definitely needed some alone time, I had the best day I went to the beach and got table service with a sun lounger, had calamari and beers (which my mate in England said is apparently very British) I made Bezzies with the waiters and got talking to some locals who ended up giving me sweets as they were on family vacation. I also people watched and then walked back as the sun was setting it was such a fun day…. I decided to leave the girls to go out that night as I didn’t feel up to it and when I’m in one of them moods the last thing I want to do was interact. It turns out they fell out so I am glad I didn’t go as I would have been in the middle, I however got a full 8 hours sleep, smug or what. 

Mud Baths

So the next day me and Charlotte went to the mud baths, Kelly didn’t wake up, it was for the best though I think they needed time apart. The baths were the strangest thing ever, you go in in your bikini into this clearly man made volcano and loads of people all fumble about bumping into each other and there are Colombian men massaging you, and before you ask no, they aren’t even fit! I was really freaked out saying no no massage, so they leave you alone, it felt strange but it was funny and we met lots of people. Then you climb out and these women wash you down in front of everyone get really into all your cracks and crevices, she literally pulled my pants to the side at one point I jumped back in shock and hoped no one saw! Then we went for dinner where we had classic Colombian food, fish and rice with fried plantain which I enjoyed and then got time to swim in the sea and wash the remains of the mud off! That night we got a flight with our new mate Boscow to Medellin, unfortunately the flight was delayed so we had airport beers instead of going out in Medellin.

I instantly loved Medellin it’s down in between mountains and yours ears pop you go so low down. The taxi driver was playing electro and house music so I had a good feeling about the place. We stayed at Palm Tree Hostal and got a private room for the same price whoop, I loved it because it was cute and they were so friendly but it was a bit out of the way. I did feel a bit bad but the girls daren’t moan much because I do all the planning and hostel booking. 

Day 1 walking tour and techno

We went and met Bosco and had baileys ice coffee and these pizza cones which were corn cones which were lush. Then we went on a walking tour which I found so incredibly interesting, the guy doing the tour was a Paisa himself which means he’s from Medellin. He was really honest and we could ask him anything we wanted. Although we learned that they hate Pablo Escobar, he brought so much death and destruction to the country, we had to refer to him as the famous criminal or Harry Potter style he who must not be named. So you should definitely watch Narcos on Netflix it’s ace and it helped me to relate to things in history he was talking about and showing us. Basically the famous criminal kidnapped his uncles and also killed some of his friends (not personally but during his reign of terror) and he may have helped a couple of hundred poor people but that was nothing compared to the thousands that he killed and the childhoods he took away from so many because of how dangerous a place it was to live during that time. However he didn’t suggest that killing him was the answer and that it made the country any better because it didn’t up until 2002 when the country started to change for the better. He basically said that the Paisa people and Colombians in general have such a positive outlook on life and no matter what happens they look for the good in everything and will cling onto the tiny  bit of hope and happiness to make their life better. He then also said that his mum told him never to offer opportunity to people for them to steal from you and told us to put out bags on our front as we were entering a dodgy area where people were smoking things worse than crack and sniffing all sorts of substances. People watching at its best! We also ate the best panadas during this tour. Anyway then we went out round the bars and to Calle 9+1 which is a techno club. It was ace we partied until the sun came up… I feel it was a very fun day and had sampled a lot of local produce, which is always fun when you’re in another country right. 

(The guide in the photo is Juan and he is a Pasai from Medellin. He is so passionate and such a lovely person and I would highly recommend doing the real city walking tour)


(An artist made this sculpture to stand in a new area made specifically to restore the area and hold gigs and music concerts as it was rough and not well looked after. Unfortunately during the first gig someone set off a bomb and blew up the sculpture killing several people including a child and an unborn baby. Several parties claimed the bombing and to this day no one knows who it was, the artist made another sculpture but insisted the old one remains so that they never forget what happened and the people that were lost. The bird signifies the new life and new beginning of Colombia.)

Day 2 Guatape and the big rock

Soooo when you’re really hungover and had about 2 hours sleep you should get a 2 hour bus journey and then climb a massive rock with a massive hill and then 740 steps to the top in the boiling heat right? Well actually yes that’s right, it was such a fun day. I was so glad we didn’t take a tour and did what I said and just made our own way there, it’s so easy to navigate the metro and it’s like less than 3000COP to go as many stops as you want. Then the bus was easy too and the scenery was great. It was difficult walking up the rock and again being scared of heights is never easy but I love a challenge. The view from the top is out of this world and well worth the climb up. After we went into the little town of Guatape which is the cutest thing ever, it’s like a little town that’s stuck in time located by this reservoir. I imagine it’s one of them places where people don’t leave and outsiders don’t move there. It was Bosco’s last supper with us so I pushed the boat out and got steak but I felt so guilty (about 6 English pounds so don’t judge me too much) then we got this jumbo chocolate for the bus home which if you go Colombia you’ll love it! We didn’t get back until late so we didn’t go out. Unfortunately the girls fell out back at the Hostal, I feel so in the middle and thought that this was our time to part ways. I’m all about peace and love so just want an easy life :( 

Day 3 Game Day

OMG this was the best thing ever I had so much fun, dare I say too much fun considering we had a night bus to catch! (Much to the girls dislike as they later said they’d Said don’t mention the bus to Grace so we can stay another night and go out). We all bought t-shirts and bracelets and sat out drinking beers while all the fans arrived. Unfortunately they didn’t serve beer inside, they don’t at the football due to fighting already being an issue, I love this idea so it makes it more about the football than the piss up like in England. Although I’ve been told they get coked up before the game, they would have to because they don’t stop singing for the whole 90 minutes it’s unreal. They also hang off the balconies holding onto nothing but the flags it’s so dangerous. The atmosphere is just amazing like nothing I have seen before. We sat as close to the fan stand as possible and sat chanting and dancing for pretty much most of the game, we were supporting Atletico National who scored and won 1-0 yayyy team. If you ever visit Colombia I would highly recommend this it was the best thing I did, stuff the tourist things and planned days out, this was real Colombia and I Loved every minute. That was until the game ended everyone disappeared and reality hit, ok so do we pay £12 for a night bus or spend at least £100 for a flight, 1 more night in a hotel all for 1 more night out in Medellin. Yes my time was cut shorter than I wanted but the sensible girl in me said Grace it’s time to leave. I told them to stay and genuinely didn’t mind going on my own but they knew I was right and followed. The bus was like I said £12 to Bogota and took like 8 hours it went so fast and we slept most of the way. I am so sad to be leaving Colombia but I feel that one day I will return. But for now Colombia adios. 

Airport Day

I came away from Colombia thinking nothing but peace and love and realised that I just need to be happy! So this was it I said right I am off to volunteer when we get to Ecuador I can’t cope with you two moaning and arguing so it’s time we spit up and did our own things as its ruining my travels, it’s a lot harder than I ever thought travelling with 2 girls, one of which I have only just met. I am very laid back and hate any conflicts, Kelly is really nice and Char has been my friend for years so I love her but together they just clash. It was a long day when the flight was delayed so we spent 12 hours in the airport and in total 29 hours travelling. Time spent unknown where they would go when we split up…. Only time will tell. 

Much love. OTA xxx

Cuidad perdida

We got told to use the company Expotur to do the Cuidad Perdida trek with and I would recommend using them. (That’s if you still want to brave the trek after hearing my account of events, I can’t say I would do it again given the chance but it was a great experience). It works out at about £180 and they have trips running everyday so you can always get booked on just register online or call into their office which is located in the centre of Santa Marta, it’s easy to find, they like you to have paid in full before the trek so they don’t have to wait around. We stayed at La Villana which is literally around the corner and is chilled out but you can meet people there is a pool and chill out area so I would recommend to stay here to get a good nights sleep before the trek! 

Day 1 of the trek… Is it too late for a refund?! 

We had a bumpy car journey to the start then we sat having a meal and watched the people returning from their trek, well they looked a bit deshevelled and glad to be back but it was too late we were knee deep and couldn’t turn back now! After the first corner it was all uphill and I instantly thought what the hell have I done. Luckily you get use to it after a bit. Then the rain came and the path turned to a muddy land slide and I fell down the hill. People were slipping and sliding everywhere. No one prewarned us about the rain and the mud so be warned it is horrendous whether you are going up or down a hill when it’s muddy and raining there’s no good way to go! We finally reached camp at about 5pm, went in the lake and tried to clean off and had a game of cards then very unsociably went to bed as we were all so tired. 

(These 2 translators were lovely and clearly had a bit of a thing going on)

Day 2 of the trek… We actually paid for this punishment 

A 7 hour hyke today which included a straight 1 hour uphill struggle that tested us to our max….But the worst was yet to come. 

It was like something out of a movie and with torrential rain in the jungle like Forest Gump or Jurassic Park, it felt like life or death to get across the river. It was the worst the guides had ever seen it and the rain was relentless it was torrential, there was thunder and lightening and we later heard one group got electrocuted but were all ok. We lost the guides and were split up into twos, we them managed to make it into a 4 and then a 6, we almost took the wrong route but saw the guide stood by the river. Holding onto each other we waded through waist deep water across a fast flowing river in the down pour, Charlotte said oh what about my stick, it’s you or the stick, fuck the stick! We linked hands and made it across, we then had another mammoth hyke and eventually reached another fast flowing crossing but this time there was only 6 of us and no guide so reluctantly we waded across again holding on shouting down the line like Chinese whispers when it got deeper or stronger current, it was scary and exciting and we felt like true adventurers. A lovely polish guy helped us all out, we continued the hyke on slippy rocks and finally made it back to camp. Apparently the guides had been worried because the river has never been so high or fast, we bonded in fear and felt like we had acheived something with the day. We were all hyped and excited to see the lost city on the next day but little did we know that yet again the worst was still yet to come. 

(The photos above are from when the river was tame, unfortunately I couldn’t get my camera out the rain was that bad. Someone took a Go Pro video which I will post at a later date!) 

Day 3 Possibly THE worst day of my life…

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse you get to day 3 with sickness and the shits. I literally had about 2/3 hours sleep I was on the top bunk up and down up and down all night… Omg how could I get through the day when everyone started getting up at 5am I just couldn’t move… I shouted the girls and they were the same. (Luckily all 3 of us were the same so we could stick together). It was horrendous Kelly was crying, they were both sick and then argueing and the camp had run out of water. I’m quite a tough cookie but this was something else! Saying that, we were determined to make the 1 hour hike up steep steps to ciudad perdida, the whole reason we had started this encounter. They ran out bottled water at the camp and we think the purified tank water is what gave us all the shits because everyone was fine off food so I would definitely recommend taking purifying and rehydration tablets. Imagine being ill and all you want to do is curl in a ball but instead with no water only bloody Gatorade we had to hike steep steps which scared me because I’m scared of heights. Once at the top we were promised toilets and water, I thought I was going to die Kelly had to shit in a bush and use a leaf and they had no water only beer at the top! If there was a hell it would resemble this day. Someone asked if it was worth it we all scowled no. At that time I couldn’t care less about the lost city which is a shame as I love things like that, but I honestly thought I was going to die. After a scary walk back down a man slipping and a massive rock nearly smashing Kelly on the head we made it back to the bottom camp had half hour nap in the hammock and set off on 2 hour trek to the next stop… Still with no water and the shits in the boiling heat. Luckily we got a horse to carry our bags to the first stop which was our water stop yayy that’s what kept us going…. Much to our distress they didn’t have any bottled water either, more Gatorade for me. If I see another bloody Gatorade it will be too soon! I actually honestly didn’t think I was going to make it back, Kelly was white as a ghost, it literally took everything I had in my mind and body to get through the next couple of hours. The tour guide Enrique was really nice to us but he walked ahead and disappeared so we were 3 girls clinging on to life in the jungle, we kept each other going though and although we had fallen out earlier I think we bonded over near death. I am not exaggerating when I say it was probably the hardest day of my life… Made harder by being with people that done get on😦

(This is us not giving a shit about the history or the lost city thats not bloody lost anymore. I couldn’t even muster a smile and that’s not usual for me! Not my strongest look Ill be honest, I better had lost weight from the trek is all I thought).

Finally we made it back to camp and the rain held off, Enrique found a turkey and brought that back too. He’s great he can make cat and turkey noises and interacts he’s like doctor Doolittle. Thank god they had water, it wasn’t cold but they had it! Everyone cheered for us and then also a guy came back after that had the same problems as us and said it was the hardest challenge of his life and he’s done trekking in a lot of countries an poor conditions. We felt like we had accomplished something and all we could do now was to pray for a good night sleep and no more dodgy stomachs. Dear God, see above, amen.

Day 4, the final furlong… Am I selling it? 

Luckily for us we got a decent sleep and our stomachs were OK. Our only issue now was exhaustion and the heat, it was hard but all I could think was at least I didn’t feel like I was going to die like the previous day so the only was is up. It seemed to take longer than we expected to get back and the thought of more rice and chicken was a bit overpowering for us. Anyway we made it back and got a massive cheer from the group. All that mattered was that we weren’t the last people back thank god! I met some lovely people and will keep in touch with the English couple, pushed myself harder than I thought was possible and proved that I can do anything I put my mind to….I also proved that I am tolerant and good at counting to 10 haha. Oh yes and of course the views weren’t half bad too! 

(This was our group, such a nice bunch, with the tour guide Enrique in the middle)

Just another note a polish/ French Canadian couple that helped us cross the river, gave us strong tablets do and rehydration sachets also offered to help carry our bags and were very caring I was so choked up I think at times like that you see how amazing and kind people can be and I’m literally almost crying at how nice people have been to us. The English couple and Australian couple were all so lovely and concerned for us and I am eternally grateful for their help and support. 

So with all the above in mind, happy trekking don’t let me put you off! It’s a pain you forget and I am a sucker for punishment, it’s on my bucket list to do the Inca Trail so that’s what I will do. Personally I would say just do the Inca and spend more time exploring Colombia or sunbathing! But that’s just me. Ciao. 

Much love OTA xxx

Santa Marta and the Caribbean Coast

On the way into the centre Charlotte saw a man being held at knife point, in the daylight so it was a good start. We heard of quite a few muggings while we were there and people being held at knife point. Most could have been avoided like 2 girls going out to the bank in the dark and one guy going out on his own in the dark on the street so just be careful and don’t carry much money or belongings out with you. We stayed at La Brisa Loca, we wanted to meet people and party… boy did we get just that. Only stay there if you want to party, it’s a great way to meet people but they have this wheel that they spin and you get dares like drinking a shot from someone’s belly button, make a mangina and get your tits out. I had to do a few and so did Charlotte. 3 days hard partying here was enough, there were tears and arguments and one of us nearly ended up in hospital and got the bar closed down… We don’t speak of this incident unless you were there… Personally I think Santa Marta centre leaves a lot to be desired and I wouldn’t spend longer than 2 nights here. The staff at the hostel are really nice and the rooftop terrace is pretty cool but we didn’t feel safe enough to venture out far other than to a few shops, so forgive me if there’s a lot more to do! 

What Kelly did next…. So she disappeared for hours and then lost her handbag. She’s also sprained her wrist somehow. 

Cheat Night
We got a bus up to near Tayrona park and unfortunately there were no spaces at the hostels so much to my upset and much to their relief we had to stay in a luxury hotel which cost us £22 each for the night! I know don’t judge me we had no choice and I couldn’t face trying any more hostels and seeing their disappointed faces when I came back and said no, yes they aren’t the most laid back travellers ever but they’re getting better! 
Not a lot to report on this luxury 4 star hotel, a beautiful pool and on the beach the room was luxury with a kitchen and air con… So we went to bed at 8! Well needed rest, that’s enough about the cheat night.

Tayrona National Park
Whatever you do make sure that you’ve drawn some money out before you go to Tayrona because the closest ATM is in Santa Marta. Also second point, DO NOT take your big rucksack, we left ours at the hotel overnight and just took our day pack. It costs $42,000 to get into the park and I would recommend that you get there early, we got there for about 9. You then listen to some instructions in Spanish that you don’t understand, make sure you get the bus to the starting point it only costs $3000 which is about £1  otherwise this walk would take you about 45 minutes. Take some water and snacks, they have men selling water and lollies along the way but it could be a while before you reach this. Don’t fall at the first hurdle and give in and check into the first lot of hammocks. It takes about 45 minutes to get to this first point and it’s tempting to just settle here, the waves are too choppy and it’s well worth carrying on for a bit longer (another 45 minutes). It was touch and go whether Kelly would make it, but she pulled through. It’s not very well sign posted and there’s a horses route or a human route but which ever one you take you’ll make it eventually so don’t worry. Make sure you take in the scenery and the walk as its picturesque but you kind of forget due to the exhaustion walking in the sun. 

What Kelly did next… She forgot to bring any money to the park so we had to lend it her, massive travelling faux par! Also left her sandals so had to go back to the park for them…. 

Costeno Beach

It was now time to chill out on the Caribbean coast and have a well deserved relax. We stayed at the much more relaxed sister hostel of La Brisa Loca, La Brisa Tranquilla just next to the surfer hostel Costena Beach, that one was fully booked for nearly 2 weeks so book it well in advance just encase. La Brisa Tranquilla was only £8 a night, we weren’t happy at first our beds were on the porch of the dorm so out in the open and had mosquito nets. I complained that we didn’t have a fan, plug sockets and a safety deposit box like the beds inside did, Charlotte also complained… The next day they had electricians in and fitted them all for us! Talk about customer satisfaction. The staff were really nice and on the second night we got smashed on rum and sat up drinking with the owners of the La Brisa hostels and rated and slated their properties, it was good fun, I can’t remember getting to bed and was definitely still drunk when we had breakfast.

(The photo is a slightly rum drunk, me, Kelly and Charlotte with the American owners Ryan and Evan, talk about ballets with an amazing life just flitting from one hostel to the next socialising and relaxing by their private pool! Yes I probably am trying to steal his vodka) 

 I’ve finished my first book called The Sister, it was ok I would probably give it a 6. Someone saw a snake near our beds as well and we got bit to shit by mozzis, but I was so relaxed and didn’t want to leave. Time to part ways with Henry and Hamish our Columbian little brothers that we took under our wing. Back to Santa Marta for one night for a subway, shower and good night sleep before the torturous Cuidad Perdida. We stayed at La Villana Hostel, it’s a good location just round the corner from Expotur for the trek and has a good chilled out vibe but vibrant enough to meet people. (Not that we were interested in that tonight) hashtag unsociable traveller! 

What Kelly did next… Sorry to disappoint you today, other than loosing her dry bag, forgetting to take her bank card to Expotur office to book the trek and getting blisters from sunburn she’s getting better I’m glad to say :) 

Much love, OTA xx

First stop…Bogota 

We were worried about it being a bit dodgy around Bogota and although I wouldn’t wonder about at night unless I was in a group, the day is safe and there are lots of police around so we didn’t feel worried for a moment.

After a slow morning of Charlottes first experience in a hostel not being able to switch the light on until about 10.30 she wasn’t happy fumbling about in the dark. I got forced into a conversation still delirious about the room, I know basic Spanish words but they speak so fast. I would recommend taking a Spanish class or getting a CD to listen to and learn in the car, I did both and so glad to have the basic knowledge. We stayed at Hostel Sue Candelaria in La Candelaria area, the hostel is really nice and the woman that works there is very friendly and helpful even if we were probably having different conversations with each other! She’s so tiny and cute, she’s like the mother and just wants to help everyone out. All the staff were nice, the location ideal and wasn’t too loud but a great way to meet new people as there was always someone about. The breakfast was fresh juice, croissant, scrambled eggs and a mini cup of hot chocolate (already after 1 day I see a theme with mini hot drinks).

We did the graffiti tour which is free and they just ask for a donation at the end, they basically ask for $20,000- $30,000 peso and would probably look at you like shit if you didn’t pay so don’t be fooled by the ‘free’ part. We found it interesting and a good way to walk around and get our bearings in a group. It did last 2 and a half hours and you might loose the will to live slightly after hearing that each graffiti artist is ‘number 1 graffiti artist in Columbia’ that aside it’s definitely worth it and the graffiti/ art is unreal. 

On day 2 we went to Cerro de monsorrate which is a mountain that dominates the city centre of Bogota. The cable car is about $20,000 peso for a return ride and once at the top there is a church and a shrine. The views over the city are beautiful and apparently if you go in the afternoon you can watch the sunset and there are restaurants, shops and bars,we went in the day and unfortunately it was cloudy and rainy but I imagine it’s very romantic and quaint at night so I would definitely recommend that. 

 We had to go and meet Kelly at the airport because she was worried about getting a taxi on her own, this only cost around $60,000 for return taxi so don’t pay more than $30,000 peso for a taxi from the airport to Candelaria area. 

We went for food at El Gato Gris which is just around the corner from the hostel. I had pasta and the girls had steak which was all reasonably priced, maybe a bit pricey for a traveller on a tight budget but it was a one off because the night  before we had street food and a beer for $5,000 so we splashed out a bit! We were planning on only having a couple of drinks but then everyone was drinking in the hostel so we ended up going to a local club and having salsa dance offs with the locals which was great fun… Wasn’t so fun the next day when we had only had 2 hours sleep.

What Kelly did next…. So I’ve only known Kelly a few days and I already know she’s going to be a nightmare. In a funny way but still a nightmare, reminds me very much of Jenna that I travelled with last time! So day 2 and massively hungover she breaks the zip on her make up bag and on her ruck sack so we have to head out quickly to get her a new one. She then forgets several belongings in the hostel due to being in a rush…. I left my hat, gutted! I can tell this is going to be eventful already!

A bit of advice if you’re heading to Santa Marta up north get a flight as it was only £35, the bus price isn’t much different and apparently it takes forever because there is only one road and the traffic is ridiculous. 

Much love OTA xx

Adios amigos 

Saying goodbye is never easy and no one tells you just how hard it is to leave everything you know and love. Whether this turns out to be the worst decision of my life or the most amazing adventure it was something that I just had to do. My mum has always said do what makes you happy and just to follow my heart and dreams. Travelling and new adventures are what makes me the happiest so here goes!

My friends from work showed me so much love and put on a surprise party for me which I just didn’t expect. It was the things I love, a techno DJ, a buffet of Bourbon biscuits, salt and vinegar spiral crisps with loads of bottles of prosecco, I didn’t realise people were that bothered I was leaving so it was lovely. I will miss the job and the people so much and have loved every minute. I don’t have a bad word to say about Go Outdoors. I can’t not mention being a part of the 3 musketeers and will miss the crazy kids that are Ben the designer and Lauren my boss the Product Developer that should be Queen of the world by now! I will struggle to find colleagues/ friends like them I know that for sure!
I told myself I wouldn’t get upset but apparently in my leaving speech I sounded like Homer Simpson and then I was that high pitched that only dogs could hear me! 

I am eternally grateful to the people that made an effort to see me before I went, I got gifts, messages and cards and had such an amazing send off. I couldn’t see everyone as it seemed to go so fast and I was so stressed out. I worked right up until 2 days before I left. I went to Tramlines and spent too much time getting drunk rather than packing (You’ll come to learn this is typical behaviour of me) I did however manage to sneak in a cheeky date before I left…yes this wasn’t essential given me going away but it was fun, and I think our paths may cross again one day! It has made me realise who my true friends are and who I care about and will make the effort to see when I get back, some people surprise you how much they do or don’t care so it’s an eye opener! 

The little sister…. Well as far as sisters relationships go we have just that. We might argue and annoy each other but it’s soon forgotten and we don’t hold a grudge against each other. It’s a 90/10 ratio in her favour being a brat but she’s my little brat sister and I love her so much. We couldn’t be more different, I love to travel and love being away from home and going to raves…She however likes other things and I just hope that this time me leaving Spurs her on to travel. There is a massive world out there and I think it would do her good to see it as it has me. So if you’re reading this Beth…. Get saving and see the world because you won’t regret it! 


Packing was bloody horrendous, imagine packing for 5 months into one rucksack where the weather goes from 31 degrees Caribbean beach to freezing cold Inca Trail nights … My friend came round to try help but I think I was beyond help at this point. 17.1kg heavier looking like according to Charlotte a turtle on steroids the packing was done. The final send off was emotional and mine and Charlottes parents were upset (well my Dad stayed at home and said don’t be short of cash, but didn’t give me any, yes that’s the kind of worldly advice I get from my father, along with have a photo with your Nan she might not be here when you get back!) With our life on our backs we embarked on the mega bus journey to London…..

…. With an hour delay, a drunk man talking to and following us at the bus stop, 2 tubes, 1 train 1 bus, I helped 1 drunk tramp dwarf off the train who’s leg fell down the crack and I thought he was a goner but luckily an American man helped me …It was a slightly traumatic start but I felt like it was preparing us for what’s to come and the adventure ahead. Sitting down to desperadoes and dominos in the hotel, I finally felt like Columbia will be a walk in the park now :) 
Much love OTA xx

Shopping in Shanghai


Before I’d been to China the visions I had were somewhat different to the reality. Perhaps I have been blind to it and somewhat ignorant to the beauty. The people I know that have been go there on business and are usually tired or don’t get to fully experience its glory so I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I was given the chance to travel there with work. I instantly fell in love with Shanghai, the reality is the buildings are works of art and the city is somewhat futuristic so you feel like you’re on the set of a sci-fi film. The fashion is the next thing that amazes me, the style is just so quirky and they take my love for ath-leisure and monochrome to a whole new level in Shanghai.


Hitting das bund  – although I know it’s far from being German I can’t help but hear ‘the bund’ and think of it in a German accent as ‘das bund’ so this is how it became known on our trip. The Bund is a waterfront/ boardwalk area in Shanghai where Chinese and international tourists alike gather to amongst other things people watch the fashionable Shanghainese. If you get chance you should get a boat along the river it’s meant to be really nice, we didn’t have time so we did the next big thing and took the cable car along the tunnel under the water. It’s more expensive than getting a taxi but it’s like a mild techno rave with lots of flashing lights so I felt it was worth it for the experience! There are also a lot of nice bars and restaurants overlooking the river which are really nice.


Futuristic buildings aka works of art. Staying in the Eton Hotel and being upgraded to a suite with a huge bath was obviously in itself pretty good but then I was instantly in awe of the view over Shanghai. The buildings are unreal and the time and effort put into these works of art is somewhat inspiring and to be admired. Obviously the grey smog is not as appealing as the blue sky and fluffy clouds we often see in England, if you weren’t aware this is due to the pollution and mass population. When some of our suppliers visited England they couldn’t believe how clear the sky was which is so sad to think some people never experience the beauty of things we take for granted. For 3 months this year before the G20 summit factories in certain areas are ordered to close to reduce pollution and help clear the smog. Hopefully that will help the environment…even if only for a short while!


Shanghai brewery and amazing burgers

As much as I like Chinese food and trying new things it’s also nice to have some good old reliable food like a classic hearty burger! If you get the address up beforehand on your phone in Chinese to show the taxi driver it’s much easier than trying to explain because the chances are they’ll not have heard of it. It’s a quirky area and the brewery is a funky little place where you can sit outside if it’s nice and they have good music. They have a brewery on site and the drinks are really good in particularly the beer and cider. I went for a classic beef burger with avocado as I have it a lot at home, whether I was influenced by the fact I have been faced with chicken feet and unknown meat roulette for the past week or so but the food was fantastic and I would definitely recommend it! There are also bars and clubs in the area so be sure to check it out.


Underground shopping

The shopping in Shanghai is amazing from unique one off shops from local designers to the world wide well known luxury high end designers, theres something for everyone. However, those that know me know I do love a good market. Every time I travel somewhere be that London, Cambodia, Paris or Shanghai I suss out the market scene. Shanghai is renowned for its fake goods market at the Shanghai Science and Technology  Museum, it’s a big underground shopping centre with loads of stalls with fake designer clothing, bags sunglasses and pretty much anything you might want. The key is to barter hard, they drive a hard bargain but stick to your guns. We were with a Chinese colleague so she helped out with some but due to negotiating being part of our jobs we did really well, even the Chinese people we spoke to around the market couldn’t believe how cheap we got everything for! If you’re lucky and you show an interest they take you into their secret room in the back, it’s like a covert operation which involves knocking on doors and waiting for the coast to be clear because if the police come they get in to trouble.  They don’t usually let Chinese people into the back rooms due to the fear they will tell the police so it’s only for westerners, however because she was with us our Chinese colleague loved coming in the back and seeing all the best of the best bags! It was definitely worth going in for the best quality and newest styles so maybe if you’re in the elite like us you’ll get chosen too! Oh, one to bare in mind though, don’t do what I did and get carried away and forget that you’ve actually got to transport everything around China with you for the next week, massive FML!


Coffee and the safety of Starbucks

If you’re like me and in any doubt of where to go for coffee in England I head for Starbucks. You know what you’re getting and you know what you’ll pay. So why should China be any different. Like me you might also be surprised that China have Starbucks, and lots of them for that matter, they also have telephones and the internet! (Sarcasm aside though they don’t have Facebook or You Tube). With regards to the food in China, don’t worry about it. There’s so many different options and I tried some really tasty dishes that I’d never tried before. Obviously there’s the weird and wonderful like pig knuckles and fried baby bird but even the locals don’t eat some of the strange dishes and turn their noses up at it, I think they just do it to us foreigners for novelty purposes.

(Strangely enough I don’t go round taking photos of Starbucks as I didn’t think it would be relevant, silly me. So instead I took a photo of me judging every hotel by the coffee selection it had to offer. The photo on the right is some strange shelled creature, I was offered a Starbucks scone in a bet that I wouldn’t try one…. Obviously I had been craving the scone for some time and not being one to back out of a bet tried one. I won, and yes, yes the slimy peculiar beings do taste as horrible if not worse than they look and including the Chinese people at the table I was the only one that tried them.)


The great firewall of China

So as I mentioned above China is on lockdown and sites such as Facebook, You Tube and Snapchat are all blocked, I think they’ve just recently got access to Instagram, correct me if I’m wrong. One reason is amid fears it could be used to organise political protests, following the 2009 rallies the government now aggressively control the internet, it is a dictatorship after all so what they say, goes! I’m not saying that not having Facebook is a bad thing; I personally don’t like it and think that people are far too interested in living their perceived social media life rather than actually just enjoying themselves. However, that being said it is annoying when you try to Google or research things (not at all to check my Facebook/ Instagram/ post some sick sightseeing selfie in Shanghai on Snapchat) so we found a way around it. All you need to do is to download the app called Onova Protect, it’s a free VPN app that gets around the server somehow and allows you access to any of the sites which you would be able to access in England. It’s a pretty amazing tool to have so I would highly recommend it, maybe just log out of Facebook though and have a detox while you’re away.


Shanghai fashion is on point it puts us to shame, they make such an effort and have such good style, I say ‘they’ I am obviously generalising but the majority of people I saw were well dressed on the whole. I would definitely recommend visiting Shanghai, they’re currently building a Disney land which will also be open later this year so even more reason to visit! China as a whole is a must see, the food and people are fantastic and I found them to be very welcoming which I didn’t expect. China has many faces from mountains, beaches and islands in Xiamen, shopping in Shanghai and so many different local cultures. Next stop, Hong Kong techno style!


Much love OTA xx

Short hair don’t care


(This is me and my new short hair… pulling my not caring face)

So we all have our up and down days and I can often relate to Bridget Jones tragic spinster-esque attitude and feel like I could be eaten by alsations and nobody would even know or care. Obviously I know this is not the case, I see myself as quite a happy positive person on the whole but sometimes we all need a helping hand to bring us back to happiness. I just thought I would share some of the ways I stay positive and shake off the mood!

Some of the more obvious ones are:

  • Exercise to release endorphins
  • Make a list of everything that is on your mind
  • Reduce your caffeine intake
  • Go Outdoors and get some sun light
  • Yoga
  • Eat well
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Listen to your favourite music

Here’s some of the less obvious and my favourite methods to combat stress or a negative attitude….


(This is Anglesey in Wales… visiting this hidden gem will perk you up)


Get a new hair cut…

Sounds simple… that’s because it is simple. I’ve been toying with the idea of having my haircut short for a very long time and recently felt a bit crappy about myself so needed a change. I think that’s enough said on this matter, just do it, I love my new hair and instantly felt like a babe again… When you look good you feel good and I find it instantly lifts my mood. Hair gone, mood gone….Short hair don’t care!


(Also me but pulling my slightly more sinister not caring face)


Bridget Jones…

It would be wrong to write this post without mentioning my love for Bridget Jones, so whether you read the book or watch the film I highly recommend you give it a go. If the third book was anything to go by then the film will be amazing and lucky for us its coming out this year! Her life is far from perfect and I can relate to her somewhat tragic yet eventful love life, it’s all about one woman’s diary and following her on her quest for love. While I might not be currently on the quest for love I do enjoy the occasional date and meeting new people so have like Bridget started to keep a diary…. Although due to my date terrets my love life seems to be publicly aired around the office so a diary may not be necessary!

I can also relate to the binge eating Ben and Jerrys, but this is often a choice to be alone or with a friend nursing a hangover on a sunday. Lets be honest no man need see such a sight and what normal person can be bothered to shower after a heavy night! #showershy

“Am enjoying a relationship with two men simultaneously. The first is called Ben, the other, Jerry”



If in doubt, let it all out…

I hate to be the guy that maons and complains so I try to be happy around my friends (sorry family you get the maony, complainy guy) although the chances are I’m happy when I’m seeing friends anyway. However there’s nothing better than letting it all out over a coffee to a good girlfriend. I always find that they lift my mood and whatever the problem was big or small seems insignificant or at least so much easier to deal with. It’s right what they say a problem shared is a problem halved. So remember no one wants to be around that negative Norris friend that moans and brings your mood down because lets be honest we all have them, but its fundamental to your happiness to talk to your friends. Sometimes when you’re down the last thing you want to do is socialise but I assure you if you consciously make yourself see a friend you will feel much better for doing so.I have some amazing friends that make me laugh and cheer me up and I don’t know what I would do without them all!




Yes, smile. Smiling is like totes one of my favourite things to do and research shows that your brain responds to the movement of certain facial muscles (smiling) and thinks oh I must be happy because I am smiling, so if you smile you can trick your brain into thinking you are happy. So try it now, you may look like a weirdo but you’ll be a happy weirdo. I am sat in Starbucks writing this smiling so yes I am aware I probably look slightly mental. Smiling is also highly contagious and I just love it when a stranger smiles at me passing in the street when our eyes meet. It costs nothing to smile and it can make such a difference to someone’s day. People look friendlier, approachable and to me more attractive, I for one am ugly when I don’t smile. There is only one down side to smiling….I am a very smiley person and am aware that I have smile lines, however I will embrace my smile lines and continue to spread the love. There is actually a world smile day in October but why not make everyday smile day🙂

“Smile and the whole world smiles with you”


…I also subconsciously look for objects that look like they’re smiling in everyday life, for instance this dial on the spinning bike… I still swear it was smiling at me though!



Last but not least meditate. If you only try one new activity to de-stress you this year make it meditation. You’re probably thinking oh no she’s one of them hippy types and it’ll be full of tree huggers and dread lock donning spiritualists but I assure you it is not. And I am not, as much as I would love to live on a beach playing a guitar getting high I actually have to hold down a serious job (very stereotypical comment I know hippies are far too busy protesting about making peace not war to be wasting time sat on a beach!). It’s actually really popular now and I found it’s really good for lightening my mood and de-stressing me. I joined a meditation class at the Buddhist Meditation centre but they’re getting more common and if you Google it you’ll find one in your area. I have always been interested in Buddhism and was intrigued by the monks when I visited South East Asia a few years ago. Most meditation classes I found work on a goodwill gesture fee, that’s either per session or for the whole course so it’s very reasonable. Whilst writing this I discovered I could go on for ages abut meditation, so Ill keep this one short and write a whole post about it soon. In the meantime if you’re interested in meditation but don’t have the time to attend a class, there’s a great app called Head space you can download. It’s free and each session only takes 10 minutes, so its great first thing in a morning or last thing at night to relax you before bed.




(I can’t play the guitar unfortunately and I am massively failing at being a hippie by having a bottle of coke in the photo, damn it)


Thats it from me thanks for reading. Namaste….


P.S please can someone decide if its spelt hippie or hippy!! Google you are not being very helpful on this pressing matter!

Much love OTA xx




Keep fitness interesting




Its not until I got ill with the flu this year that I realised how much fitness is my life. I still love to party and have treats but like a lot of people I know, exercise is a massive part of my life. I think the key is to keep it interesting and remember that it can be fun. It’s easier to loose the weight and when people comment on how well you’ve done and how good you look it spurs you on to keep going. Then after a while when you reach a certain point its about maintaining your weight and improving your fitness. You have to remember to keep pushing yourself and not getting complacent in your routines. That’s why I’ve decided to run a half marathon and here are some of my fitness tips to keep you motivated and get you out of that rut:


  1. Sign up to a charity race or fitness event


I am a firm believer in setting yourself a goal and target to work towards whether that be a bikini body for a holiday, an event or race or simply because you’re newly single and you’re giving yourself 8 weeks to get over him and get that hot body ready for tinder! Anyway, I’ve signed up to do a half marathon in May, I’ve only ever done a 10k once before on a treadmill and it was a killer so its going to be tough for me. It doesn’t matter how far whether its an iron man, tough mudder type obstacle course or a 5k night walk its about taking part, working towards getting fitter and enjoying yourself in the process. It’s also a great way to raise money for charity, I’m doing it for the Alzheimer’s society and once you’ve started raising money it becomes real and you know you have to train because people have paid good money to sponsor you…. Eeeek no pressure!

Check out my just giving page



  1. Join a running club

As I mentioned before I never had myself down as a runner up until a couple of years ago and even now I am still the 5k King and struggle to push myself further. I decided to join a running club at the end of last year and it was one of the best things fitness wise I’ve ever done. The people were so welcoming from day one and everyone spurs each other on. It really makes you feel like part of a team and being around like-minded people makes me more enthusiastic and keen to get fit. They offer different level classes and everyone runs at different paces so whether you’re a beginner and have to walk for a while or a Mo Farah wannabe you’ll fit right in and meet so many new people and get training tips and ideas. There’s pretty much one in every area so just Google it to find your closest one, I went on my own but don’t worry there lots of people in the same boat so don’t let that put you off.


  1. Shopping spree!

It might sound simple having the right attire and although yes sometimes it’s an excuse to buy some shiny new trainers, I am a firm believer in having plenty of decent running kit. There’s nothing worse than getting your kit ready late at night or rushing about before work and you can’t find your sports bra! So make sure you have several outfits, I have about 4 that I love and multiple back ups. They need to fit you well and feel comfortable so you actually feel good going into the gym, its amazing how much of a difference having gear that you like to wear makes. I’m not talking about your hair and make up because I usually look like a 16 year old boy at the gym but if your kit looks and feels good it will show and you’ll be more motivated to work out. Without a doubt my favourite sportswear brand has got to be Nike, I find it reliable and washes really well. Most retailers and supermarkets have jumped on the fitness gear bandwagon and a lot of it is decent stuff at an affordable price. Just be careful because some things don’t wash very well. The main thing to think about is the type of trainers you need, make sure they have enough support for the amount of running you’ll be doing as its so important to look after your feet and legs as not to sustain an injury. I have plenty of trainers in different colours for different purposes but they’re all necessary, honest! Finally, you’ll be pleased to hear athleisure or casual fitness clothing was the key focus of New York Fashion week this year so its now acceptable to be seen out and about in your gym kit…Hallelujah, we can wear our trainers to work so we don’t have to carry 2 pairs of shoes around after that early morning gym session!


  1. Try a new class and get outdoors

I am fickle to say the least and I’m always looking to try new things, whether that’s the latest diet fad or a new class that’s all the rage that month. I am aware that running on a treadmill for 30 minutes can seem quite laborious to some people or if you’re like me and learning a routine in Zumba is hellish then don’t be disheartened, as there’s so many things out there to try. I love any kind of Yoga but if you want something new try hot yoga. It’s more strenuous due to the heat but its still relaxing at the same time. If you’re looking for something more upbeat spinning classes are great, its indoor cycling on stationary bikes with an instructor and they claim to burn anything up to 600 calories per 45 minute session. They have the music blaring and it’s a great atmosphere and the time goes really fast. However, my faves have got to be cross fit or HIT (high intensity training) classes. There’s an amazing boutique HIT place opened in Sheffield called Trib3 which offer 45 minute sessions of none stop hardcore workouts with dimmed lights and upbeat music and a great instructor that pushes you to your max. Don’t get me wrong its hard work and whilst I’m doing it I think why the hell am I putting myself through this…. But I’m a sucker for punishment and if you need that boot camp style push to help you get fit then this if or you! They have them in all major cities now and everyone I know that has been to them love them, they’re more expensive than normal classes but still cheaper than a personal trainer, better in my eyes and you sweat together! The last major point is to Go Outdoors! I am from the UK and we often forget how amazing it is and how much there is to do and see outdoors. So whether its a walk on the Yorkshire Moors, a bike ride around the peak district or an intense climb up Snowdon mountain in Wales I recommend you get outside and it’ll instantly lift your mood and half the time you won’t even know you’re exercising.


  1. Kayla Itsines

So I’m not sure whether it’s PC to write about specific people but it’s my blog and I’m writing about the things I love and inspire me. So I would like to declare my love for Kayla Itsines. Kayla I salute you for what you’ve done, how you’ve inspired, motivated and changed the lives of women (and men I imagine) from around the world. If you don’t know her, you should, she’s an Australian woman that devised workout plans to specifically target the main areas women are conscious of and wanted to help with body confidence and inspire others, boy has she done just that. She offers a variety of both workout and meal plans and posts lots of food ideas and workout routines on her blog. It’s a great way to check her out or download the free trial app before you buy a plan. I was stuck in a workout rut like a lot of others who follow it have agreed, it gives you the focus and motivation you need and I find I stick to it more than any fitness plan I’ve ever done. I did it with my friend in the studio at the gym but I’ve also done it at home in the spare room or in the garden, after 6 weeks I saw results and my fitness improved drastically. Unfortunately I had a couple of holidays and illness but for me it’s the best way to see results and its only 20 minute workouts so no lengthy gym sessions. I would definitely recommend it, it’s a bold statement but I’d say it’s changed my life a tad! I don’t follow the food plan for various reasons one being she pretty much bans alcohol and lets be honest if I’m training hard I deserve to let my hair down at the weekend! Its great to have and you don’t have t follow it religiously. I love her motto and very much agree with it “I don’t know what I want to be. I just want to help people.” Much love for this woman!



I’ve missed it off here but probably the reason I enjoy working out so much is music, I could talk about how much it inspires me and keeps me going and how you should make sure you have new music and something that you love to workout to…but thats a whole other blog post for another time! So that’s my top fitness tips, I hope you found it useful. If you have any tips or something has motivated you when you really needed it I’d love to hear from you.


Much love OTA xx


5 reasons to go veggie for a week…

5 reasons to go veggie for a week…


I’ve wanted to try being a veggie for a while now or at least cut down on my meat intake but I just haven’t got round to it, that was until this week. There are so many health benefits and positive factors related to being a veggie, although I know I couldn’t do it full time I salute people that are! I love a new challenge and I feel I owe it to them to try it for a week and see what the crack is. Here are a few of the main points that have struck me when I researched the reasons behind being vegetarian:

  1. Love your heart


Saturated fats are found in meat and dairy and consuming a high amount raises the cholesterol level in your blood. This then increases your risk of heart disease; which is why there has been massive media coverage recently about cutting down on red meats and it being linked to heart disease and bowel cancer. I don’t eat much red meat anyway but I think it’s really important to educate yourself on the benefits and risks and having it in moderation. Therefore by cutting down or cutting out red meat from your diet you instantly reduce the risk of heart disease, and remember we only get one heart so you need to look after it!

2. Trying new foods


This might sound like a simple remark and it’s not something you can only do when you’re a veggie but it’s forced me to cook more and try new things. I think we become lazy and meals can get mundane and boring so it’s a great way to get creative and make meals exciting with spices and flavours. I’ve found that I look forward to my meals a lot more and have already tried Frittata, veggie burgers and creamy avocado pasta which I’ve never tried before but now love! If you pinterest veggie recipes there’s so many quick and easy options (I did try to take a photo of my food but although it tasted really nice it wouldn’t inspire your dog!) I also know I’ve learnt that meat doesn’t have to be the basis of all meals and that we don’t realise how much meat rules our lives until you try and cut it out.

3. Good old weight loss


I’m on a health kick at the moment and my goal is to take a progress photo in 2 weeks’ time to show how my body has changed since I started training harder. I’m not necessarily looking to lose weight maybe a couple of pounds I’ve acquired when I was ill but it’s good to know and it’s a good way to maintain your weight. Vegetarians are renowned for being thin, whether it’s down to a healthy, leaner lifestyle or just because they don’t know what to eat if they can’t have meat (joking… kind of) but funnily enough when I thought about all the vegetarians that I know they are all amazingly thin!

4. Doing your bit for the environment


Eating less meat has been hailed as one of the ways to help combat climate change, this has been set out by the United Nations not just by some hippy types. I wont bore you with it but apparently we could cut our greenhouse gas footprint by 25 percent if every Briton went vegetarian. Now obviously that’s not practical but the more that people know the benefits of cutting down on meat the better. So even if it’s just meat free Mondays which I will be doing from now on, every little helps!



5. Being kind to animals


Now I’m not a massive animal lover per se but I just thought the other day for the first time, why just because we are the dominant species should we be able to take animals lives into our own hands, surely this is an act determined from above and we shouldn’t be able to manufacture animals and breed them purely for our personal gain, its inhumane and cruel. We clearly don’t need meat to survive as many people live healthily without it and it can be damaging to us rather than life enhancing. (Apologies if it’s a bit hypocritical as I will continue to eat meat after this week but it’s just something to consider!)


5 interesting people that are/ were vegetarian at some point in their lives

  1. Albert Einstein
  2. Paul McCartney
  3. Mohandas Gandhi
  4. Leonardo da Vinci
  5. Bob Marley


5 Food saviours for the week

  1. Sweet potato
  2. Eggs
  3. Fruit
  4. Veg (mainly broccoli)
  5. Oats


I do feel a lot better for trying being a veggie and feel like I’ve accomplished something if only for a short period of time. I have learnt a couple of things, one being we can easily survive without meat and that our lives do not revolve around meat as one might think, and another point is that I take a vow to never ask a vegetarian where they get their protein from if they don’t eat meat. I assure you there are plenty of other sources and usually the person asking is not a very healthy meat eater (this is where you refrain from asking said person about their unhealthy diet choices and either smile politely and say I have my sources or spin them a line about how long it actually takes for your body to digest certain meat). Oh and just to add there is one small problem I have discovered though…. and that is I can’t stop being a veggie! I only set out to do it for a week but for some reason so far I can’t bring myself to eat meat again, oops. I will let you know when I get off my high horse and return to the dark side. Try it, you never know you might enjoy it like I did!


Much Love. OTA xx