Iceland, America and a baby, 2016 has been a good’un!…

This year has been an incredible one, I’ve done less travelling than usual due to being on maternity leave but having Emily has made it the loveliest year for me and being able to take her on adventures around the world even better. I thought I’d look back on the travels and adventures of 2016 and reflect on the differences with a mini adventurer in tow!


January: Iceland
January started off with a trip to Iceland, being 6 months pregnant this was our ‘babymoon’ and the last time I planned to fly before my due date in April. Matt and I spent four days in the Arctic Circle, what an amazing place! We stayed at Loft Hostel in the centre of Reykjavík and explored a lot on foot, the views of the city from the top of the church, Hallgrimskirkja were one of my highlights here. We were lucky enough to see the northern lights on a super jeep tour, drinking hot chocolate while watching the aurora borealis dance across the night sky was an amazing experience. A trip to the south coast included a stop at Reynisfjara, the black sand beach near Vik, seeing waterfalls such as Skógafoss, one of Iceland’s largest and Eyjafjallajökull the volcano that erupted in 2010. My favourite sight on the south coast was walking along the base of a glacier, hearing it crack as it moved and taking photos of the ice blue formations was incredible. On a tour of the Golden Circle we walked between fault lines at Þingvellir National Park, watched the mighty Strokkur geyser explode every few minutes and took photos of Gullfoss waterfall in the freezing cold! The day was rounded up perfectly with a trip to the Secret Lagoon; the Blue Lagoon was closed during our trip so this was the next best thing. Unfortunately I couldn’t go into the hot pool as I was pregnant but Matt loved floating around in the steamy water.


What to do with four days in Iceland
Exploring Iceland’s South Coast
Adventures on the Golden Circle in Iceland
Chasing the Northern Lights in Iceland
Review: Loft Hostel Reykjavik, Iceland
Northern Lights Photography Tips



February: London
In February, Matt and I went to London for a few nights for a wedding and explored Islington, Shoreditch and the market at Spitalfields. Having lived in London for three years while I was at university it was nice to go back and visit areas I had not been to before. We tried out some really great restaurants and cafes and ate a lot of good food!
A foodie weekend in London



April: Emily
April saw the arrival of Emily Louise Dunkinson weighing 6lb 1oz and since then it’s been a whirlwind eight months! Matt and I have always said that we would carry on travelling with a baby but were a little apprehensive about how this would pan out. Once we’d got our heads around the extra packing (who knew someone so small could need so much) we were good to go!
Flying with a baby


August: Cornwall
We started off with a road trip to Cornwall in August; I had a surf and yoga day planned with professional surfer Corinne Evans in Newquay. It was the first time I had surfed since being pregnant, it was so nice to get back on a board and meet some like-minded ladies. Three nights in Cornwall meant there was time for lots of beach walks and relaxing too and Emily at four months old seemed to love her first trip away.
Surfing in Cornwall with Corinne Evans


September: Italy
In September we went to Italy for two weeks to explore the southern region of Puglia. This was Emily’s first flight and it took a while to get my head round all the palaver of what liquids we could take through airport security and how she would be on the flight. Thankfully she was such a good girl and slept a lot, leaving Mum and Dad time for a celebratory G & T! Puglia was beautiful; we stayed in a traditional trullo building and visited some gorgeous towns, swam in the turquoise Mediterranean, strolled around cobbled streets full of white washed buildings and enjoyed spending time with Emily and her grandparents. Eating and drinking was high on the agenda here too, with freshly picked figs and almonds from the trullo gardens and Aperol to be sipped by the pool it was a very indulgent two weeks!
How to spend two weeks in Puglia
Exploring the trulli town of Alberobello


October/November: America
During October and November we spent some time in America. Visiting family in California was so nice and Emily got to meet her cousins for the first time. Being in America for Halloween was fantastic, fancy dress and trick or treating in a neighbourhood that pulls all the stops out was an awesome experience! Matt, Emily and I also went on a road trip to Sequoia National Park. The 7 hours drive was well worth it as our rustic cabin high up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at 6,500 feet was very welcoming. Stargazing, taking photos of giant trees, hiking with some incredible views, driving through a tree, watching the sunset behind the mountains and climbing the 400 steps to the top of Moro Rock are just some of the adventures we had there, all with Emily strapped to our backs! Back on the coast we watch surfers at Swamis, enjoyed brunch in Encinitas and visited Temecula for wine tasting and lunch. I was blown away with how well Emily coped with jetlag, she seemed to do better than me and she was so good on the long flights.
As any parent is aware it takes time to adjust to looking after a tiny human and it has been hard to keep up with writing on my blog along with my freelance work at the same time as being a Mum. I’ll often put Emily down for a nap with grand plans of getting some work done and a blog post, then I’ll hang some washing up, make a cuppa, sit down, feel all like ‘yeah I’ve got this being a Mum and writing thing nailed’ jot down a paragraph and then Emily will wake up!  I’m not complaining as I am completely in love with her, I think it’s just something I’m still learning to get used to. So my new years resolution is to stop beating myself up about it!


December: Somerset

I’m writing this today from Somerset, Matt, Emily and I are staying in a cosy cottage near Cheddar and will be seeing in the new year sat in front of the log burner in the lounge with a bottle of champagne. Travel plans for 2017 are already in motion with the first being a trip to France we’re going with friends by ferry from Portsmouth to Caen. We are staying in a lovely apartment in the fishing village of Port-en-Bessin-Huppain overlooking the seafront near Normandy which is famous for the D-Day Landings. I’ll be going back to work too, which right now seems like a terrifying prospect but at the same time I’m really look forward to flying again and visiting some new destinations, Peru, Costa Rica and Cape Town are just a few of the new routes I’ll be exploring when I return. As cabin crew I think I’ve never really got used to the idea of being ‘grounded’. Having said that I have got used to being in a ‘normal’ routine at home now so it will be interesting to see how I get on with weekly jetlag and 3am starts! But I’m sure surfing in Barbados, shopping in Orlando and a whole nights sleep all to myself will help me get through it! There will be at least one longhaul adventure for the three of us too, Matt and I are currently mulling over some options so watch this space.
Cheers to new adventures in 2017 and Happy New Year to you all!


How to spend two weeks in Puglia, Italy…

Puglia is a dreamy region found at the bottom of Italy’s heel, fly into either Bari or Brindisi to reach it.  I’ve just spent two weeks in Puglia and loved every minute, our first week was all about relaxing in a Trullo with our own pool while the second was spent by the coast in Otranto.


Ostuni trullo:
Our trullo was hidden away and pretty hard to find! Needless to say it was well worth the hunt, and around a mile or so along a tiny and rather bumpy ‘country road’ we arrived at the most gorgeous little spot. ‘Trullo Tranquillo‘ (the name says it all) had its own pool and although in the middle of nowhere it was only around a 20 minute drive to the towns of Ostuni and Cisternino.
Trullo houses are traditional stone and white washed buildings with a dome-shaped roof, native to this area. They were originally used as temporary out buildings and dwellings which could be easily dismantled and moved to avoid paying taxes.
Surrounded by nothing but olive trees and almond groves and with our own pool the trullo gave us plenty of time to relax, sunbathe have some pool time and do nothing for a little while….or for at least as long as our 5 month old would snooze for anyway! Breakfasts consisted of freshly picked figs, almonds and prickly pears from trees around the trullo.  For lunch it was pasta or pizza out and about and evening meals were spent sat outside with caprese salads and meats cooked on the barbecue.  Staircases on the outside of the trullo led to a roof terrace which had fantastic views. Looking out over olive trees you could make out other trullis in the distance and Ostuni lit up and looking pretty at night.  It was also the perfect spot for watching the sunset and for stargazing, with hardly any light pollution around the night sky sparkled.  Inside, the trullo was connected to a newer extension, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a well equipped kitchen meant we had everything we needed. Matt and I were sleeping in the trullo part, our bed was in one of the smaller stone domes, it was nice and cool in the evenings and with no windows very dark too. The trullo came with a cot, which was great as we didn’t need to worry about bringing our own. We for obvious reasons didn’t pack a baby bath so used the kitchen sink for Emily’s bath time, which worked perfectly! It was such a novelty to live in this traditional stone building for a week.  Our water supply came from 320 meters below and an outdoor shower made for a unique morning wake up, there’s nothing quite like showering with views of neighbouring almond groves!


Exploring Puglia by car is an easy way to get about and see not only the delightful Italian countryside but also Puglian towns with their beautiful architecture and squares with coffee shops and gelato stops. My favourites were:
Alberobello: This trulli town is a must visit while in Puglia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, 1500 trullo buildings adorn the hillside and really are a sight like no other.  White washed stone and dome-shaped roofs with colourful flowers in hanging baskets make for a pretty picture.  Strolling the streets it’s clear to see why this is such a popular spot.  Souvenir shops, restaurants and wine bars are all waiting to be discovered inside but I just loved taking in the beautiful architecture. For more on my day in Alberobello click here: Exploring the trulli town of Alberobello.



Ostuni: Named ‘Citta Bianca’ or White City this divine town is full of white stone buildings, tiny cobbled streets, buildings with julitte balconies and a 15th century cathedral.  Puglia is well-known for its olive oil and there are plenty of shops selling it here, a nice souvenir to take home.  Ostuni has some lovely squares perfect for coffee and dining alfresco. A pizza and lunchtime beer were on the cards when we visited. On Saturdays a huge market lines the streets with stalls selling everything from clothes to kitchen crockery and a vast food section with fresh local produce, meats and cheeses.



After a week inland it was time to head to the coast, a 1 hour and 30 minute drive saw us arrive in Otranto, this gorgeous place has everything, beautiful beaches, an impressive old town, a port and more gelato stops than you could get round to trying in one week.  Crystal clear waters, perfect for swimming and snorkelling meant this week was very different to our trullo stay.  Our apartment was a short stroll from the town, the views of the harbour and the old town made for a pleasant walk in. Our favourite beaches were Lido Camillo right in the centre of Otranto, here we paid 25 Euros for two sunbeds and an umbrella. Although pricey you also get the use of changing rooms and toilets.  There are normal public beaches to use too, but it was nice for a treat to hire sunbeds.  The water was so calm, clear and shallow, it was just bliss to paddle or swim in.  Lido Atlantis, slightly out-of-town was a bit cheaper than the ones in the centre and was another favourite.  The ocean on this side was a little rougher and there were lots of rock pool for exploring, plus a very nice bar for a beer on the beach.  The old town is fortified by huge walls and has plenty of italian charm, shops, bars and restaurants line cobbled streets and the small streets meander up to the cathedral and castle.  The cathedral is a must visit, dating back to 1088 it has stunning mosaics on the floor and beautiful art work inside.  The cathedral holds a shrine with bones of the 813 Otranto Martyrs encased in glass.  Another must visit is Grotta della Poesia, 30 minutes drive north from Otranto near Roca this natural pool has crystal clear waters.  A thrilling way to get in is to take the plunge and jump 15 feet into the sinkhole or if like me you don’t feel brave enough there are steps carved into the rock for easier access!  Arrive early to avoid the crowds and have this incredible blue plunge pool all to yourself.  There are lots of beach restaurants and lovely lidos to stop off at along this stretch of the coast too along with some gorgeous rocky outcrops perfect for a dip.
From the countryside to the coast, this trip was a perfect mix of the two. Exploring quaint Puglian towns and relaxing on a calm coastline meant we had the best of both worlds.  If you are planning a trip to this part of Italy you will love Puglia!


Exploring the trulli town of Alberobello, Italy…

One of the highlights of my trip to Italy was a visit to Alberobello in Puglia, easily reached in around one hour from both Bari and Brindisi.  This region is well-known for its trulli buildings, which can be spotted throughout the countryside.  Dating back to the 14th century these dome-shaped buildings are constructed from dry stone masonry and a conical roof.  They were often used as out buildings or dwellings and were designed to be dismantled and moved for tax avoidance purposes.  In the pretty town of Alberobello 1500 trulli cover the hillside and are such a unique sight. Alberobello is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, trulli can be seen throughout the Valle d’Itria but this is the most to be found in one area. I loved exploring the quaint streets and couldn’t stop taking photos of this beautiful town. A viewpoint opposite the town was a fantastic place to capture images of tiny trullo rooftops, head for Piazza del Popolo to find it, look out for viewing areas on the trulli rooftops too. A lot of the trulli in Alberobello are residential, while in the more touristy parts they are wine bars, souvenirs shops and restaurants. The most photographed street has to be Monte Pertica Street, the trullo houses there have symbols painted on the cones these symbols are supposedly of religious or mystical connotations. I also loved looking up, the tips of the trulli and the blue skies made for picture perfect photos. Although busy it was easy to escape the crowds, arrive early to avoid the coach tours and be sure to stop off for an iced coffee, such a refreshing way to cool off from the midday sun!
For more on what to see and do in the Puglia region head to my post: How to spend two weeks in Puglia, Italy…