Acciaroli, the secret to a long and healthy life?

Last August, I had the pleasure of staying in the gorgeous hamlet of Acciaroli for a week. The place has a sleepy charm during the day and a vibrant community spirit that comes alive as the sun goes down. This week, Acciaroli has been making headline news around the world because of its large concentration of centenarians. One in ten residents is over the age of one-hundred! The press in the U.K., America and Australia have all covered this quaint and unusual place.

Personally, I think the articles and the scientific discoveries are fascinating. I found the residents of Acciaroli to be warm and friendly. I stayed there for a week on my own and was welcomed to several dinners and apperitivos. The Mediterranean diet and laid back lifestyle is doing wonders not only for the age of the locals but also their health. I loved sailing on the Orient Pearl and eating the cheap and healthy food that I ate there daily.

I’ve always believed that being by the water is good for the soul and set along the beautiful Italian coastline, Acciaroli is popular with tourists in the summer. I was at home on my boat Nocturne, tied up to the harbour wall where the local harbour staff checked in on me daily and made sure I was happy and safe. Most of their ‘working’ day involved sitting in the shade chatting to visitors and each other and occasionally helping with the boats arriving and leaving. They certainly weren’t stressed or in any kind of hurry to leave work, with many of them staying well past their contracted hours just to enjoy each other’s company.

I was actually in Acciaroli when I decided on this blog’s name so the place is not only great for longevity but also for stimulating creativity! I loved my time in Acciaroli and I hope to return there one day. I’d highly recommend it as a holiday destination.


Blog to Book Series (Part 5) – The Book Cover

One of the most exciting moments in the whole of the Blog to Book journey was when I first saw the cover. I’d been asked to provide a choice of full body shots of Bailey. The designer could then choose an image to use for the cover. I was told that the designer would likely cut out Bailey and position the various photos of him standing, sitting or climbing and potentially he might even be walking across the title typography!

I was extremely excited but also quite nervous. I was worrying about what I could do if I didn’t like what the designer came up with.

The team were keen to get the cover artwork ideas flowing quickly so they could use the cover for any marketing and publicity for the book. I agonised over which photos to include and chose a selection of my favourite photos of Bailey to put into our shared dropbox file.

I needn’t have worried, because when I first saw the cover, I fell in love with it immediately!

The image above shows the final cover. The first cover I saw was identical, except for the tagline. To begin with, we had used the original tagline from Bailey Boat Cat’s blog which was The Adventures of a Maritime Moggy. After several discussions with the sales and marketing teams however, we realised that ‘moggy’ wasn’t really suitable for the American market. (Moggy just means cat for any American friends reading!) So after brainstorming, we decided on the new tagline, The Adventures of a Feline Afloat. I love the fact that the cover really captures Bailey’s personality and looks, in my opinion, ‘pawesome’!

I also loved the back of the cover. After seeing the full cover in its entirety, the reality of the book actually being published finally hit me!

Bailey Boat Cat full cover

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Other Stories

I’m a real sucker for pretty books. Not only do I love reading but I also appreciate beautiful books both old and new. In this new series, Bookshelf Beauties, I’m going to highlight some of my beautiful books and why I love them so much.

To start with I had no choice but to share this stunning Barnes and Noble Leatherbound Classic Collection copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Other Stories. I love it!

Alice in Wonderland
Firstly the bright pink cover really appeals to my girly nature and the foil gold on the cover, spine and even the edge of the pages makes it feel so luxurious. It has a ribbon book mark attached and it’s a great quality book. The actual pages are quite thin, but since it’s such a big collection and already quite heavy, I think that the pages work really well. There are also really cute illustrations throughout the book.

Alice and the cheshire cat
I’ve always loved Alice and her adventures but I’d never read any of Lewis Carroll’s other works and it’s been fun delving into them. The collection also includes some of Carroll’s word games which are fascinating. I’m not a big fan of the introduction which questions Carroll’s motives and moralities but others might find the discussion interesting I suppose. I still have lots of the other stories left to read but this book is such a pleasure to pick up and read I’m looking forward to continuing them. Due to its weight I would advise against giving this version to children, but it would make a wonderful gift for Alice and Carroll fans, or even just collectors of beautiful books.

Alice and coffee

Sailing Blog and Yachting adventures

Once the contract for Bailey Boat Cat had been approved by all parties and signed, I got to work on the actual manuscript. During the contract stages we’d discussed deadlines, and initially I was quite surprised by how quickly Bloomsbury wanted the manuscript written. In total, I had about two months to get the manuscript of around 10,000 words written. I also had to do multiple ‘photo shoots’ with Bailey to get all of the photos needed for the text.

Laptop in Lakka
At an agreed midway point I sent my editor the first two chapters of the book so that we could both discuss the way things were shaping up. Happily, we agreed that the manuscript was going in the right direction and after a few suggestions from Jess, I continued to write it. I absolutely loved writing the book and I hope that enthusiasm comes across when people read it.

I took all of the photos for the book. As a passionate but amateur photographer, it took lots of time and patience to get the right shots and of course for Bailey to cooperate!

Photographing Bailey
Many people have asked me whether the photos inspired the text, or if it was the other way around. In all honesty, for Bailey’s blog it had mostly always been the photos that had inspired the text, but of course for the book I had an in-depth plan and certain areas that needed to be covered. This meant the photography aspect of the book was much more challenging than the blog had ever been. Luckily, Bailey is very curious (read nosey!) so, with a little persuasion, I managed to capture everything that I needed to well before my deadline. Of course the photos needed to be a high resolution, so I used my Canon EOS 550D to shoot with. The images were fairly large file sizes, so together with Bloomsbury, we decided the best way to share them would be through a joint dropbox account. This worked very well.

Once I’d sent off the manuscript my editor, Jess, read everything and suggested some areas to change and tweak and once we were all happy that the manuscript was the best it could be, my job as the writer and photographer was done. My job as a marketer however, was only just beginning!


Ten years of travelling – Top ten destinations!

I love to travel! Travelling feeds creativity and broadens the mind.

I left my home in Cornwall ten years ago… Since then I’ve lived in Bristol, Paris, Nice, near Rome on a sailboat and now I live by the lakes near Milan. I worked as a flight attendant for eight years travelling all around Europe and I’ve been lucky to travel to some other wonderful places around the world. There are still lots of places on my wish list to visit, but so far the following places are my favourites. In no particular order, here’s my top ten destinations:

Florida – I’m extremely lucky to have a wonderful friend who lives in West Palm Beach and who has welcomed us into his home several times. We’ve rented Mustangs and other beautiful cars and taken road trips to The Keys and Orlando. The weather and friendliness of the locals makes Florida an amazing travel destination which I hope to return to frequently in the future. Plus Disney World is there, need I say more?

The Keys

The most Southern point in the USA
Australia – My boyfriend, James, grew up in Australia and so I’ve been very lucky to have been welcomed into his friends’ homes like family and really experience the Australian way of life. The Aussies are the best at BBQs, relaxing and having fun. I’ve spent time in Sydney and Brisbane and loved both cities. I hope to go back and explore the beautiful country some more.

Singapore – We ended up in Singapore by accident on one of our trips to Australia. (We got stuck in Abu Dhabi so we decided on a different route.) We spent a few days there and it was my first taste of Asia. Singapore is beautiful, clean and ultra-modern. The people are friendly and I’d happily go back to experience the amazing water show again. If you’re lucky enough to go, make sure you try a real Singapore Sling and the delicious Chilli Crab!

Chilli Crab in Singapore

Bali – Bali was also an impromptu trip on the way to Brisbane. (Don’t try to arrive in Australia the weekend of Australia day on standby tickets!) We only stayed for three days and two nights so we didn’t get to explore much of the island outside of crazy Kuta. It was a shame because after studying the island in detail, there are so many other gorgeous places that I would like to visit in the future.

Bali beach

View from the hotel in Bali
Vietnam – We went to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) where we took our lives into our hands sharing the pavements with hundreds of scooters. The markets and street food were really interesting, mixed in with the more modern high-rise buildings. We visited the war museum which was a sad and humbling experience, but the city is fresh and full of life now. To escape the crowds we indulged in a trip to Phu Quoc, where we enjoyed white sandy beaches and even watched pearls being harvested in a pearl farm.


Phu Quoc
Barcelona – I studied Spanish at university and I’ve spent quite a lot of time in Spain over the years. My favourite city in the whole of Europe, however, has to be Barcelona. There’s something for everyone with the history, the art, the beach and the delicious food. I’ve been there on a girly holiday, with my family and I’ve even done two solo trips to Barcelona, once just to try a solo trip and the second time to study Spanish. Barcelona has a charm that I’ve not felt anywhere else.

Parc Guell

Tanzania – I climbed Kilimanjaro for The Anthony Nolan Trust nine years ago and fell in love with Tanzania in the process. The people are warm, happy and very welcoming and the scenery is breathtaking. I spent a little bit of time in an orphanage there and the children were the kindest little souls I’ve ever met. They just wanted to connect, share whatever they had with our group and learn. The experience really changed my life, it inspired me to come home and enrol with the Open University. I would love to go back and explore the rest of Africa and hopefully even see the big five in the wild one day.

Nice – I was working in Paris and not particularly enjoying living there (I’m a country girl at heart) when the opportunity arose to move to Nice. I jumped at the chance and never looked back. The Cote D’Azur is a magical place and the beauty of the coastline really has to be seen to be believed. Nothing can beat a cold glass of rosé on a hot day or trying out another fabulous restaurant in the beautiful old town.

Dubai – I wasn’t sure about whether I would like Dubai after hearing mixed reviews about it, but I really enjoyed visiting. We have lots of friends living and working out there, so it was great to see them and experience the Middle East briefly. The city is ultra-modern and there’s so much to see and do there. I loved visiting Atlantis and experiencing one of the famous, fancy brunches with great friends.

Dubai marina

The Ionian Islands – Last summer we sailed from Italy to Greece and spent the whole summer exploring the Ionian Islands. We sailed around Corfu, Lefkada, Ithaca, Meganisi, Paxos and Anti-Paxos all of which were stunning. I’ve never seen the colour of the sea look so enticing anywhere in the world! The people are friendly and the food is wholesome and delicious. I would love to spend more time in such a gorgeous part of the world.


Bonus destination

Italy – Italy is currently my home and there are too many beautiful places to name a favourite. The eternal city Rome, is unique and beautiful. It’s a real must see in your lifetime. I’ve also had the fortune to sail lots of the Italian coastline and the islands of Ponza and Elba will always hold a special place in my heart. You really can’t beat the food in Italy either!

Sailing on Nocturne

So do any of these destinations make your top ten list? Where are your favourite places to travel to?


April Afloat

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks. We now have our beautiful Border Collie puppy April Blue and she has really injected all of our lives with lots of energy.   She’s exceptionally good natured and has stolen everybody’s hearts already.

April at 8 weeks

She’s a Blue Merle, which is quite an unusual colouring and lots of Italians we’ve met have asked me if she’s a husky!

April in the garen

I thought it was strange at first, but we’ve been asked so many times now that I was really impressed yesterday when someone came up to her and said, ‘I love Border Collies’.

On Friday I drove down from Milan to Rome with Bailey and April in the car and April was introduced to the boat for the first time. The only tricky thing was that Nocturne was on the hard! So we had to think of a way to get a wriggly puppy up and down the ladder…

Climbing a ladder with a puppy

We ‘borrowed’ one of Bailey’s back pack travel cases and she thought it was great fun getting in and out of it. The boat yard isn’t a very puppy friendly place however, and I had to watch April like a hawk because in true puppy fashion she wants everything she can find in her mouth. Luckily by Saturday afternoon we were back in the water and April had her first floating experience.

She was asleep as we left the slip in the boat yard, and after a 20 minute sail around to the marina…

April Asleep

she was still asleep! What a perfect boat dog! She’s a natural!

Bailey is tentatively curious about her, but he keeps well out of her reach when she’s having a hyper moment.

Curious new siblings

I was worried that bringing April to the boat would be too much for her and might upset her housetraining, but actually she’s very happy and is still progressing with the housetraining well. She has a smaller surface area in the boat, of course, which might actually be helping her to learn. She’s not mastered asking to go out yet, but I’m getting better at realising when she needs to go so we’re learning together. Once we’ve both got the hang of it, I will try and train her to relieve herself on the deck. That way if we do any long passages when she’s older she won’t have to cross her legs!

Naturally, she’s the darling of the pontoon here in Rome. She had her second vaccination yesterday, so in a week we can leave the pontoon freely and go exploring and socialising with other dogs.


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