Fashion Shoot with Jonathan Martin

Fashion Shoot with Jonathan Martin

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As some of you who follow me on Instagram know, I am currently exploring the beautiful city of Madrid. So I thought it would be the perfect time to share with you an incredible shoot that I did with one of Spain’s most talented photographers Jonathan Martin. He and his wife Susanna came over to England to work to work on a couple of projects one of which was our street style fashion Lookbook that we shot in edgy Brick Lane – How exciting is that!? This was my first Lookbook with a professional photographer and it was just the best, most fun day ever!

Brick Lane is such a cool area of London, the graffiti is so bright and we felt it would be the perfect place for showcasing a street style look. I chose a few different outfits and because it was still quite cold then I wore wintery style clothes. I wore an over-sized man’s blazer with shinny creepers and ripped jeans for my first outfit. I liked the simplicity, the androgyny and the powerful statement of the large black blazer, which coupled with my Pepsi Cola pin stripped t-shirt gave the outfit a New York vibe. For my second outfit I wore a very red couture jacket and styled it with a large wide brimmed hat. I also thought it would be a great time to experiment with garment lengths and so I wore a long silver kimono under a shorter blazer to mix things up and create an eye catching look. Finally I changed the feeling of the outfit again by using a tie to add a Japanese element to my over sized blazer.

Let me know which one is your favorite photo and outfit 🙂

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Jonathan has worked on so many great projects. I felt a bit nervous because I am not a professional model and we were shooting in broad daylight in front of lots of people. Jonathan though really put me at ease and made it fun throughout, so much so that it was sad when it all came to an end! From Fashion to Weddings in Paris all his photos are just so beautiful and I couldn’t have been happier with the final shots! If you are looking for a great photographer for a special occasion, for a very important campaign or just to create some lovely memories then Jonathan Martin is the person for you! You can see more of Jonathan’s photos and shoots here on www.jonathanmatin.es including our very own shoot 🙂

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Snakes, Monkeys and Spicy Sunsets at Place de Jemaa el Fnaa

Snakes, Monkeys and Spicy Sunsets at Place de Jemaa el Fnaa

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I will never forget the first time that I saw a monkey wearing a nappy or the weathered man who lifted up a large basket to reveal a big fat python. Women offered to draw henna on our hands and glided under billowing dark blue robes, following us like large phantoms with piercing eyes, across the wide expanse of dryness. The acrobats, the pipe sounds and the mounds of dried fruit being sold off the burrow must be considered the most “normal” of activities conducted at Place Jemaa el Fnaa, with the rest essentially being a real mine field of weirdness. The square is wide and the punters are strategically placed, or at least it feels this way. Place Jemaa el Fnaa makes you stop and gaze but you must do so at your own peril. Everything ugly is but a large trap and you will have to shell out to try to extrapolate yourself. The beauty of the atmosphere, the stalls of perfumes and wicker baskets, the men waving and gesturing to you behind the rows fruit juice stands, the horses and carts gracefully clip clopping over the warm wide expanse of Africa’s biggest square will all, if you gaze too intently, hypnotize you much like a flute hypnotizes a cobra.

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It took us a while to get there even though we weren’t too far away. Having dropped our bags off we stepped back into the heat of the day. We left the comforts of our beautiful hotel and made our way into the heart of the Medina. Crafts, jewels, pottery and leather goods poured out it seemed from cracks in the walls. Carpets and clothes lined the yellow walls of the Mosque and apothecaries decorated their shops with piles of saffron and pigment.”Where do you come from?” “Come and have a look!” We were greeted and encouraged to browse by all. Men pointed us towards Tombs and Palaces and some told us they were closed, helpful information, although our destination wasn’t to be there that day. We continued our journey onwards, thanking as we went, politely refusing advances from all sides. It wasn’t threatening but it was quite tiring. We got out our map and having refused instructions from a number of people we were befriended and eventually followed a kind young boy who took us rather a long way round through the Jewish quarter and via his father’s shop, where we got to smell fantastic natural perfumes, teas and spices. It wasn’t part of the plan but it was fun.

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As the day grew long and the sun began descending low into the sky we sat down at a local restaurant opposite Cafe de France. Local Moroccan families sat patiently next to us, their food delivered to their tables but left untouched for what seemed like hours. Little boys ran back to their mums with full bottles of freshly squeezed orange juice and women with sun glasses and gold earrings produced pastries including pancakes and french pains aux chocolat for their families. The shadows grew longer and the blue sky became stained red and the market was engulfed in an orange glow.

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More people were now out, and mopeds sped up and down the main square. The whole sound of the beeping vehicles, the ephemeral pipes of the charmers and the cries of the sellers rose higher and higher and merged with the buzz of the sun. Then a cry rang out, a chant on a tanoy, the Call to Pray – this one although sounding like all the others we had heard throughout the day was particularly special as it marked the end of the first day of Ramadan, where devout Muslims of all ages go without food or water for 17 hours. Bottles were opened, tea was poured and glasses were downed. We wished our neighbors “bon appetite” and with smiles on all of our faces we ate our tagine in the glowing evening, side by side with those families breaking their daily fast with their Ramadan breakfast, a very spiritually powerful moment which we had the privilege of witnessing.

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As night descended upon the square, Place de Jemaa el Fnaa came to life. We walked through throngs of people and passed the many food stalls which had been assembled quickly just before the Call to Prayer. Music played, shops which had been until then closed, opened and so it was then under the gaze of the moon that we set off into the souks of Marrakesh. But that I’m afraid, is another story 😉

Sailor Stripes and Triangle Skorts for St David’s

Sailor Stripes and Triangle Skorts for St David’s

St David’s oddly enough is not a village or a town, but a city. In fact it is the smallest city in the whole of the United Kingdom. Its Cathedral is majestic and seems out of place with the quaint little houses and small town center. Indeed this was once an importance place, not only for religion but for industry and trade. A passage to American could even be bought for £4 from close by.

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For our outing I wore a short crop sailor top which has blue, white and black stripes and white skort. I combined it with my a long Kimono style jumper and Guess flip flops which have silver charms including an anchor and a ship’s wheel. I really liked Kim Kardashian’s recent rope dress look and so I thought this would be a great way of getting into the sea fairing spirit!

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David’s Cathedral stands on the site of the monastery he founded in the Glyn Rhosyn valley of Pembrokeshire. The Cathedral was built on a slope and its pillars have buckled under the weight of the ancient lead roof. I really liked the Cathedral’s engraved wooden roof. The grounds are beautiful and we had a great time walking over little bridges and streams. The Goat Gallery sold some beautiful art and souvenirs and I just loved their tea cups and embroidery. Another must is Giovanni’s Ice Cream parlor where I ate (not exaggerating), the best double scoop I have ever tried. Recommended flavour Butterscotch. Finally if you get a chance to go, go say Hi! to my parents who are the artists in residence at Oriel y Parc, before going back to the sea for a swim in the afternoon! 🙂

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St David is the patron Saint of Wales and is said to have been born close by in a small chapel. He became renowned as a teacher and preacher, founding monastic settlements and churches in Wales and Brittany. St David’s Cathedral stands on the site of the monastery he founded in the Glyn Rhosyn valley of Pembrokeshire.

WEARING

White Skorts – ALI EXPRESS

Vintage Sailor Stripe top

Customized glasses – OAKLEY

Wedge Flip Flops – GUESS

Beige Kimono Jumper – EAST

Paris

Paris

Growing up in a small mountain village in the South of France, a trip to Paris always feels like a big deal. Whenever I  walk around the grand boulevards, amongst the elegant people, I feel that the little girl who used to run around forests and sing La Marseillaise on the 14th July with the other urchins with a flickering flame in her hand, has finally made it to the big city.

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The grey buildings of Paris, like stark Plane trees are dwarfed by the cold winter sky. Little flecks of color, little children’s balloons pepper the skyline. These love necklaces, chained to the bridges, a homage to the City of Amour and to the people who make it so special. The bells are there and all I am missing is Esmeralda as we cross over the waters to Notre Dame’s twin turrets. So many gargoyles, their mouths salivating as the rain stains the facade. Inside the darkness we look up to blue light, red light, flowers and rainbows. Orange glows  from Virgin Maries lined up row on row.

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An ornate Royal Palace stands side by side with the world’s most modern creations. A pyramid of glass, the only window into a modern world which Paris has stayed so aloof from. The vaults are detailed and made of intricate stone masonry but the entrance is guarded by steel and technology. A maze of treasures awaits us. Things only whispered about and stuff of legends, all found here side by side, each one more marvelous than the next. The Winged Victory of Samothace, one of the great surviving masterpieces of sculpture from the Hellenistic period, and from the entire Greco-Roman era. The statue shows a mastery of form and movement which has impressed critics and artists since its discovery. It is considered one of the Louvre’s greatest treasures, and since the late 19th century it has been displayed in the most dramatic fashion, at the head of the sweeping Daru staircase. Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, a woman with a God like gaze. There are dozens crowded round, and everyone’s stares are returned like a mirror. But perhaps she isn’t starring at me or the gaggle of tourists in front of her, taking her picture and marvelling at her beauty. Perhaps she is gazing behind us all, at the guests of the wedding which adorns the entire back wall. Perhaps the curators felt they should do this for her, give her a room with a view, just in case she were actually alive. A masterpiece fit for a masterpiece.

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The water of the Seine is green but verging on silver. It is still, but as the water hits the banks, I can see that underneath the calm there is a strong force at work. The streets are gridded. Waiters in la tenue de soiree de rigeur. Monsieur, Madame. The French will stand and talk around a table of drink and nibbles for hours. Strong coffee, black and cigarettes. The speeches are done and dusted.Blink and you will think you are in a different room – bottles are popped, chin chin. Handfuls of food, laughter and a great time. Don’t hesitate or be polite, the time for that is over and everything now is fare game. Lunch at the oldest restaurant in the world, Le Procope a place of literature, thought and revolution. Through arcades and colourful shops.

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Down from the depths of Pigalle, with its red lights and blacked out facades. Wind up, up the hill, passed the XXXs and the high walls which keep so many secrets. This is the place where…apparently the swingers were…Le Moulin Rouge, like a bright red rose,  grows like a forbidden flower in a forest of grey stone. We wind up, the streets are narrow and the house slant. A square of artists, wooden easels and berets. A cliche and one which I have spent good money to see. Colourful umbrellas and plastic protects the masterpieces from the little droplets of rain which could each turn into full blown rivers of colours. Then we emerge and the prize for our uphill journey is priceless. A 360 view over the whole city enjoyed night and day by a domed Cathedral, which shins bright white in spite of the lack of sun. The King of the Castle and what a privilege to share his seat of power for this moment.

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Down the step steps, passed the Couroussel. The metros are rancid and smell. Do not sit down and don’t touch anything. Again from the dark corridors we emerge into a grand boulevard. The famous Champs Elysee. Beautiful restaurants, Gallerie La Fallette, shops galore. This time it is the roundabout which is the focus. An arch inscribed with names, to mark victory but also to remember the sacrifice and price that it cost. A flame burns and will always burn there and when the young no longer know or remember, the inquisitive will ask “What is that flame” and the question alone be enough to rekindle the past. The Tricolor, she shouts out and has never been prouder.

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Passed Chocolatiers and Hippos made from chocolate and Patisseries with flutes full of cream, we make our way to the tower of iron, the backbone of the Republic itself. Built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, this centre piece of the World’s Fair was built according Mr Eiffel himself “not only the art of the modern engineer, but also the century of Industry and Science in which we are living, and for which the way was prepared by the great scientific movement of the eighteenth century and by the Revolution of 1789, to which this monument will be built as an expression of France’s gratitude.” Now off to bed, for tomorrow Versailles and hopefully the sun!  🙂

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Amsterdam, so much more than just a Smoke and a Pancake

Amsterdam, so much more than just a Smoke and a Pancake

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Deciding at the last minute to go somewhere is never good. Ryanair, the last resort, has its prices sky rocketing through the ceiling and so, in the same way as a lost desert marathon runner decides to drink his own piss, you log on and start browsing the Eurolines coach page. Yes, the journey will take me 12 hours and I will have to leave at 10pm and travel all night… BUT it is just £25 each way. With a shudder, I clicked the confirm payment button. I guess it will be another eventful coach journey to Holland…I boiled the kettle and sat down to drink my cup of tea and it was then, when I was half way through that I started regretting what I had just done.

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Being a girl traveling on my own, all other coach drifters seem to gravitate towards me. The person who doesn’t get a double seat, will somehow invariably be me and the person I have to share it with will normally be huge and really talkative. From the 6ft 8 Buddhist monk, to the blue haired hippy who missed both her girlfriend and her boyfriend, traveling alone on Eurolines is never dull.

This time I made eye contact with a seemingly normal blonde Dutch guy sitting in front of me. The next minute I was being told that he was a recovering alcoholic, drug addict and so was his wife. That they got married so that he could get a green card and so that she could work in Europe. Now,  that is the only thing which keeps them from divorcing. He told me about his new found religion, mediation and how chanting releases his anger. When he closed his eyes and started chanting for 5 minutes,  awkward was an under statement. That night, a group of rowdy drunk guys sat at the back, being cool as those who sit at the back of the bus invariable are. Some O.A .P  asked them politely around 2am to try to keep it down a bit. Big mistake. All hell broke loose. F*** you was the reply and a fight almost broke out between the youth and the timid senior citizen. Shouting and gesticulating now at the other coach occupants, as we were told that  they could do whatever the F they wanted. A  black woman tiered of his constant ranting replied: “Shut the F*** up N****!” Which he returned with a F*** you black B****!” Commotion, mayhem broke out again. Piggy the bus driver’s head turned constantly behind him. His eyes wide with terror. The guys friends were now holding him back as he tried to have a go at the brave woman. The blonde Dutch recovering alcoholic, seeing this distressed woman ran to the back of the bus to her defense.  His attempt to defuse the situation by chanting his meditation in the guys face failed miserably and before long more passengers were trying to hold him back from the youth, as his inability to calm either of them by chanting had pissed both of them off. Piggy the bus driver, who looked like he was about to shit his pants was forced to park the coach and threaten to call the police. This was enough to return everyone to their seats, the fight over but not forgotten. Sleep at last…

I knew we were close to Amsterdam, not because of the flower fields, or the rising sun behind the wind turbines and windmills, but thanks to the Rastafarian who started playing reggae to the whole bus at around 6am when he and his girlfriend stopped for breakfast. Yes, we were arriving at the weed capital of the world, but please, do you really have to shout out “Jamaica man” every other minute. *Don’t speak to me before I get my morning coffee!*

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Should marijuana and prostitution be legalized? Does the state not have a moral duty to stigmatize such activities in case they should become the norm and socially acceptable. Women’s rights or right to abuse women. Amsterdam is controversial. What are your opinions on these controversial topics? What tourists may admire is seen by many locals as embarrassing. This quaint little city, with its beautiful canals and cute little bicycles is in fact a complicated world. One piece of advice I would like to give is that whatever your preference with regards to smoking, do not make the mistake of turning your trip to this lovely cultural city into a smoking party. Make sure you stay in good enough shape and leave enough time to enjoy the much more interesting and cool things that Amsterdam has to offer.

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A Dutch Venice. Cobble streets, pedestrianized walk ways. Beautiful chocolate box houses, tulips, clogs and waffles. Great smells, so, so many beautiful bicycles. Central Station is a great place to emerge from, right at the heart of the hustle and bustle of this lively city. Beautiful Cathedrals and streets are everywhere, I loved walking round the old quarter.

Anne Frank’s house is particularly special. An incredibly sad place, still so full of memories and ghosts. A place to remember the power of human resilience and the incredible suffering of those persecuted under Nazi rule. A shrine to love and family.  A place which gives a human face to the Holocaust and the millions of Jews who were hunted and murdered under Nazi rule. The Secret Annex — as it was called in The Diary of a Young Girl, is the rear extension of the building. It was concealed from view by houses on all four sides of a quadrangle. Its secluded position made it an ideal hiding place for Otto Frank, his wife Edith, two daughters (of whom Anne was the younger), and four other Jewish people seeking refuge from Nazi persecution. Though the total amount of floor space in the inhabited rooms came to only about 500 square feet (46 m2), Anne Frank wrote in her diary that it was relatively luxurious compared to other hiding places they had heard about. They remained hidden here for two years and one month until they were anonymously betrayed to the Nazi authorities, arrested, and deported to their deaths in concentration camps. Of the hidden group, only Otto Frank survived the concentration death camps.

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Built in 1635, the house was rickety. Up one floor, then the next and the next. When would this Tardis end? The house seemed smaller on the outside than inside and every floor felt like it should be the top one.  Behind the bookcase, which blocked the door, the dusty books still there, were the  An incredibly sad place, still so full of memories and ghosts. A place to remember the power of human resilience and the incredible suffering of those persecuted under Nazi rule. A shrine to love and family. A little girl with such courage for Holland to be proud of.

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A tour of Amsterdam by Vespa at night was great fun and a wonderful way to see the center of the city. Above is the picture of the hotel where we stayed in, the 5* Hotel de l’Europe. Two wheels are definitely considered better than four. Holland has the advantage of being extremely flat and the road safety for bikes,the parking facilities and the cycle paths are probably the best in the world. Renting bikes is a great idea and a wonderful way to cover large distances along the canals.

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I didn’t get to see the Van Gogh Museum, that I would keep for my next visit. I did however venture out to the idyllic city of Leiden, a short train journey from Amsterdam Central Station. Arguably more pretty and quaint than Amsterdam itself, Leiden, has its own windmill, castle and lovely town center around canals and gardens. Of particular interest are the 17th-century houses along the Herengracht river, the east and west gate and the Koornbrugsteeg. From Leiden it is also possible to take the bus to Keukenhof flower fields. We ate pancakes and drank coffee on the waters edge. It was from Leiden that we went to the flower fields of Keukenhof. In the center there are some lovely places to eat, including El Gaucho, Buddha’s and Sushi Bento. Leiden is just so pretty and well worth the visit.

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Keukenhof flower gardens, a mecca for old aged pensioners and me

Keukenhof flower gardens, a mecca for old aged pensioners and me

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So I have just come back from a very short trip to Holland. This was the first time that I would visit the flower basket of Europe in Spring time. The aim of this visit was thus, as well as to celebrate King’s Day, to see the beautiful flower fields and tulips that grow in abundance across the low lying fields around Amsterdam. My Dutch friends had been warned. Why, they asked do you want to see the flowers? The fields are nothing special they exclaimed! Indeed, for many young Dutch people, flowers and flower harvests have always formed part of their everyday lives.

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We walked towards the bus stop that would take us to Keukenhof – the world famous flower gardens. Not a single Dutch person that I spoke to afterwards had ever been, but all had heard about it. Tourists however were clearly flocking here in droves. We had to queue for an hour and wait for three buses in order to finally be able to board the bus. The cost of the park was 23 euros, but that hadn’t seemingly deterred anyone from going.

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As we arrived I noticed that Keukenhof was undoubtedly a favorite destination for the world’s older citizens. The downside is that you will find yourself amongst a sea of blooming flowers and grey haired pensioners and with this come the usual problems associated with old age – endless waiting for pictures to be taken, due to lack of camera or phone agility, pile ups at the best photo spots  and of course old person queue jumping. To see a nimble granny grin from ear to ear after somehow squeezing herself in between yourself and your friends and then quietly trying to persuade others to do the same, kills me every time. However,  where there is age, there is also wisdom. The beauty of Keukenhof and the garden landscaping is breathtaking and unmatched by any other which I have ever seen. So if you are young, be smart, follow and learn from your elders who know life and what is worth seeing and put this on your list of things to do whilst in Holland.

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Keukenhof is the world’s second largest flower garden.  The reason for the price is that this is literally an all day trip. The park is massive, approximately 32 hectares and there are multiple entrances, shops, indoor displays and activities. Restaurants and bars adorn the side of a large lake around which the park extends out into the fields. Watch Dutch people dangle herrings above their heads and then devour them with open mouths, and see the beer tents, wooden clogs and women dressed in traditional costumes. There is a great elevated place which enables the visitors to get a fantastic view across the flat tulip fields (which unfortunately were mostly dead by the time I arrived!). It is said that around 7 million flower bulbs are planted each year!

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Keukenhof features a variety of different gardens and garden styles. For example, the English landscape garden features winding paths and unexpected see-through points (designed by Zocher in 1830, the garden architect of the Vondelpark in Amsterdam, among others). The historical garden is an enclosed garden where you can see many old types of bulbs. The nature garden consists of a water garden where shrubs and perennials are combined with bulbous plants. The Japanese country garden is a non-traditional garden in a natural environment. This place looks just like a something from a fairy tale. I could have spent hours wondering around, taking pictures, admiring the colors and beautiful carpets and rivers of colour flowing through the trees. The lake was wonderful, with beautiful sculptures and statues. Unmissable and would highly recommend it!

La Sierra de Huelva, a window into the past

La Sierra de Huelva, a window into the past

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I would say that Huelva’s countryside is the biggest attraction and most beautiful thing it has to offer.  Drive away from the lagoons and the industrial port and get transported back in time and taken on an incredible journey.

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The road is long and winds. The roads are dry and the fields seem void of color. But then, further into the mountains we go and here the browns turn to ochre and the yellows turn to gold. Old oak trees twist, their branches knarled by time and by work. The faces of the workers toiling in the fields are tanned and leathery, their eyes are light against their faces. The sun catches and glares off the little, humble white washed houses which dot the countryside. The road veers up and now we can see everwhere, the whole world it seems. Tiny enclaves of people, little structures and in the middle their faith, large against the sky. The air is scented by the eucalyptus trees and the orange blossom. We need to be careful, deer hide and then come ridding madly down the bank. They are hard to see, they are the color of the Earth.

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Our journey has gone on forever. We must be higher up, as the trees have turned to pine and water now appears on either side of the car. A gash of red, an opening into hell. These are the mines, the mines of Rio Tinto. Machinery rusts on the side of the road. This is the age of iron, man and fire.

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A hearty meal of large olives and wine corked with bark from the bare trees outside in the garden. We sit on dark wooden chairs and at dark wooden tables. The meat is succulent and melts in my mouth. I would make this journey again just for these few simple pleasures. It is hot and we venture into dark caves. They are nice but really I am impatient to get back, back into this lovely world which now seems such an age away.

WEARING

FRENCH CONNECTION LACE TOP

H&M BLUE TOP
ACCESSORIZE SANDALS

JEAN SHORTS

 

Huelva- Gambas, Choquito y Cristobal Colon

Huelva- Gambas, Choquito y Cristobal Colon

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For such a small place, Huelva has played a large part in the world’s history. It is home to the oldest football and tennis club in Spain but most importantly, in a little Monastery overlooking the sea, Christopher Columbus planned his first voyage. He would set sail from here, with ships maned by locals, whose families still fish and live in the area.  It would be Seville’s poorer, run down cousin who would ultimately fill their towers full of gold and bring the country international dominance.

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Life here is a little bit slower, a little bit more enjoyed. The food is cheap, fresh and locally caught. I had a great time going to the Cup of the King, a big tennis tournament, going to a Joaquin Sabina concert, eating gambas and partying in outdoor clubs and bars. Las Colombinas was on, a huge outdoor fair which has little white houses which do great food and where locals go with their families to see the lights and go to the free concerts on offer.

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Flowers bloom and grow in the lovely gardens of the white washed walls of La Rabida. This is a wonderful little part of Andalucia. Close by an enormous towering statue of Columbus and a Christian cross look out over the calm waters the sea.

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We went to where he set sail and walked around the tiny delicate replicas of the ships which discovered the Americas.

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All I can say is that I can’t wait to go back 😉