Category Archives: Travel and Sports Advice

Tips for Having the Best Hogmanay in Edinburgh

Hogmanay is one of Edinburgh’s biggest celebrations of the year. For three straight days Scotland’s capital turns into one giant stage with raucous street parties, music, cultural festivities, not to mention a couple quirky traditions thrown in for good measure.

Having attended this year, take a look at the following tips and recommendations to help you make the most of your Hogmanay trip.

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Beginner’s Essential Equipment for Climbing and Bouldering

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With the days getting darker and winter setting in, now is the perfect opportunity to learn to climb or boulder. Indoor climbing gyms offer the perfect opportunity to nail basic techniques and gain confidence – just in time for the advent of outdoor climbing in the spring.

Before hitting the crags though, there’s just a few things every climber needs to get started. Take a look below to make a start on your climber’s kit. Continue reading

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Fitness Apps to Make Exercise Fun

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If you’re anything like me, you tend to get into an exercise rut. Trying to organise your schedule around work, family and social commitments often ends in you treading the same running routes, or doing the same series of weights, movements, etc. You name it, you’ve done it a hundred times.

To be fair, it is not necessarily bad if you’re doing the route faster or more efficiently, but your body needs to be pushed to get results and increase fitness, and over time completing the same routes over and over will offer diminishing returns, particularly if you are training for a particular event or race.

To help you get out of your exercise rut, here’s some flashy new apps that will make you forget you’re exercising. Continue reading

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Tips to Remember for Beginner Snowboarders

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Prior to my week snowboarding in Belle Plagne, I had never been snowboarding before, and wasn’t sure what to expect. After asking various snowboarding friends, checking websites and speaking with store staff and imparting me with loads of information, I found myself discovering even more tips and tricks along the way. Listed below are some of the top pieces of advice I collated about learning to snowboard – feel free to post your own tips in the comments below!

  1. Make sure you are given the correct type of board. It should come up to your chin, and the bindings should be shoulder-width apart. After spending hours in the squat position, you will begin to appreciate how much difference a couple of inches makes when it comes to binding spacing!
  2. Bring painkillers. It’s true what they say: snowboarding is more difficult to learn at first, but easier to improve! When you first learn snowboarding, you will fall a lot, as it seems every technical skill goes against your mind’s instincts. Expect lots of bruises on your knees and tailbone! Which brings me to my next point….
  3. Don’t be afraid to fall. Falling repeatedly means you are continuously pushing yourself and improving, which means you are one step closer to nailing those impressive jumps and flips!
  4. Save yourself the time, money and bruises and take lessons at a snowboard school. Resorts almost always offer lessons, and are cheaper if you book in advance. Learning the basics early will stop you forming bead habits that will be more difficult to break as your progress.
  5. Keep your body relaxed. Easier said than done when you’re hurtling yourself down a mountain at high speed, but the more tense your body gets, the more difficult you will find it to make turns and more likely you are to fall over.
  6. Make sure you maintain good posture; keep your knees partially bent, your back straight, and your weight in the middle of the board. Bend too much and your weight will be unevenly distributed; stand too straight, and stiff, and you’ll find turns impossible.
  7. Invest in good gloves! For boarders hitting the slopes in the middle of the season, a good pair of gloves is essential. Not only will it stop you getting chilblains, but it will make adjusting your bindings off and on the ski lift much quicker and more manageable.
  8. Guide the board with your eyes: Wait, what?! I hear you say, but here me out. One of the (many) quirks in snowboarding is that if you turn your head to look at the direction you want to go, your board will follow. That is because your board can pick up on the smallest changes to your posture and weight, and so when you move your head, you move your chest, legs, and finally your board.

Most important to remember though, is to not take yourself too seriously, and to have fun! For more information on gear and a rundown of snowboarding essentials, check out Travelettes’ Guide for Beginner Snowboarders.

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Champing is a thing now and you should definitely try it

 

For the past few weeks you might have heard whisperings of a strange new phenomenon on the internet. Mentions of #champing hashtags on Twitter, random pictures on Facebook, and arguments on various newspaper websites as to whether ‘champing’ is just another term for ‘glamping’ have gradually popped up. If you aren’t curious or excited about it you probably should, because it is a great and inexpensive idea that helps promote the outdoors and heritage at once. Continue reading

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BUPA 10000 London Review

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This past weekend my friend Anya and I decided to spend our bank holiday Monday running the BUPA 10k for Save the Children instead of sleeping in, having a BBQ and knocking back a few drinks. While you might doubt our decision-making, the BUPA 10000 turned out to be a great event filled with a fun atmosphere, a beautiful route past London’s great architecture and lots of entertainment for runners and spectators alike.

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How to Really Help Nepal

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With the endless images of collapsed buildings, reports of lost heritage sites and the varying statistics and numbers of lives lost, injured or missing, it can be difficult to compute, and easy to feel unable to help those in Nepal from thousands of miles away. And with the various aftershocks hitting the country, it looks like things are only going to get worse before they get better. Continue reading

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Handy Nutrients and Food for Muscle Recovery

Photo credit: takebackyourhealthconference / Best Bobs / CC BY

Photo credit: takebackyourhealthconference / Best Bobs / CC BY

Lately I’ve been working on several 6c+/7a projects I’m dying to crush, which means I’ve been spending a lot more time at the climbing gym and pushing myself at strength-training classes. The routes require just that little bit of extra strength, and no matter how much my arms and core muscles hurt after hours of pull-ups and clumsy bouts on the TRX, I know the exhilaration of reaching the top will easily beat any momentary pain. Or at least that’s what I tell myself at the time. To be honest, I’d love it if I could completely boss it up the routes and then be like “Oh, this old route? Yeah it’s a nice little warm-up for my 8a.”

Combine this with my running race this month and weekend hikes, and as you can guess, my muscles are feeling the brunt of my lifestyle at the moment. Considering my past mistakes of pushing myself too hard (bouts of bed-ridden tonsillitis and exhaustion, anaemia, and  preventable injuries aplenty) I’m keen to learn from them and not end up like that again. Which means I’ve been spending a predominantly large amount of my lunch breaks researching the best foods for muscle recovery to help me keep on top of things health-wise. Continue reading

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Cuba-Costa Rica Scuba Diving for a Magical Underwater Experience

 

After spending my early years snorkelling around rockpools and the beaches of Florida, I was fascinated by the hidden worlds beneath the waters – those little communities of fish, crustaceans and alligators (although I rightly didn’t go near those) that seemed to have their own schedules and methods of coexisting with one another. These daydreamy explorations were not helped by my hopes of growing up and becoming a mermaid (that’s what growing up next to Weeki Wachee does to you) and wondering whether this fish or that manatee would befriend me.

Eventually I grew up and began to brave the undulating waves of the Caribbean sea and other waters in my aquatic explorations. And while my mermaid dreams were dashed like a wayward ship on the rocks long ago, my love for exploring the ocean has held strong.

So when White and Blue contacted me wanting to publish a piece on the best destinations for scuba diving vacations, it brought back all my childhood memories of diving beneath waves and exploring those little worlds. How could I refuse, especially with their suggestions of Cuba and Costa Rica?

 

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Enjoy the underwater adventure with amazing scuba diving vacations. There is no better way to explore the amazing tropical wonders than with a cruise that will take to the deep waters and in some of the best diving destinations in the Caribbean Sea. Scuba diving vacations are ideal for novices and pros and offer a combination of leisure and sport in an all-inclusive, relaxed atmosphere. You can explore some of the most spectacular coral reefs, shipwrecks and colourful marine life in the Caribbean Sea, especially in Costa Rica and Cuba.

Costa Rica underwater offers beautiful marine life ready for exploration. You can enjoy interacting safely with marine life including mantra rays, cow nose rays, eagle rays, white-tipped reef sharks, turtles, parrot fish and various moray eels, reef fish and invertebrates. Enjoy amazing escorts from sea horses, trumpet fish, puffers, crawfish and snappers as you dive.

Scuba diving excursions in the Caribbean Sea is done on volcanic rock formations which host an assortment of attractive, small sponges, corals and gorgonians. Yellow cupcake corals and white soft coral covers most of the pinnacles. In some of the dive sites, you will also see black corals that are still in existence. The water temperature is generally comfortable at 26º- 29ºC (78º – 84ºF). if you want to see some of the large pelagic-zoned creatures such as pilot whales, humpback whales, whale sharks and giant manta, take your scuba diving trip between December and March.

Costa Rica has some amazing dive sites including Tortuga, Punta Argentina and Monkey Head (Cabeza de Mono) with a maximum depths of between 10m (30ft) and 30m (100ft). Cuba also provides amazing diving sites including Cayo Levisa, Bay of Pigs, Maria la Gorda and Santiago de Cuba, among others. Enjoy a memorable underwater adventure in some of the most spectacular diving spots in Central America. Let your adrenaline rise as you explore new pathways underwater. Enjoy the thrill of life in some of the best diving destinations in Cuba and Costa Rica thriving with a wide range of aquatic flora and fauna.

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Do you have any favourite diving locations?

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Three Simple Post Workout Recipes for Dinner

Like many people, I tend to squeeze my exercise in after work – there’s no way you’re getting me out of bed before six on a weekday, and even less of a chance of that happening on a weekend. Which is great and all, except when it gets to 9-10 at night, and I’m tired, hangry, and losing the will to care about anything except stopping that growling noise in my stomach.

While it’s really tempting to simply say screw it and order a takeaway or grab a supermarket pizza, after the initial food cravings have subsided, the rest of my body will complain about the junk I gave it to eat after it put out all that effort for me.

With spring races quickly approaching and a particularly difficult 6C climbing route mocking me after my every failed attempt,  I knew I had to do better for my body if I was to beat these challenges. And so a compromise was reached – I would cook dinners that were nutritious, delicious, and most of all, easy and quick to make, and in return my body would put out its best effort.

Listed below are my now go-to post workout recipes for weekday dinners. They’re quick, healthy and can easily be tailored to your own tastes – I prefer to throw in extra vegetables and cheese where possible!

#1 Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes

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Brought to you by the talented folk at the Minimalist Baker, there is nothing to not love about this recipe. With the delicious combination of sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and a lemon, garlic and lemon sauce with a liberal helping of spices and herbs, this is one of those unique recipes that is equally healthy and appetizing (although if you want to crumble some feta cheese over the top, I’m right with you there). Plus, it only takes 30 minutes to prepare and cook, which is perfect for those late evenings at the gym.

If you’re like me and hate spending money on small-portioned, over-priced lunches at work, then this recipe is simple to have as a lunch the next day. Just double the ingredients and microwave when you want to eat.

 

#2 Mediterranean Roasted Vegetables and Haloumi with a Basil Dressing 

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This particular post workout recipe is good when you’re feeling a little under the weather. With lots of tomatoes, peppers, lemon and garlic, all those Vitamins A and C make this meal an ideal boost for your immune system.

Simply chop everything up, whizz the lemon, garlic and olive oil in the food processor, and combine together to roast in the oven for 40 minutes. Ten minutes before the end, add the haloumi slices on top. For those wanting an additional protein hit, simply roast a chicken breast with the vegetables, or add a salmon fillet – the dressing goes great with fish!

#3 Chorizo Pilaf

Okay, so maybe the hearty amount of chorizo partially cancels out the health benefits of this recipe, but chorizo is too good not to include! Also, if you are looking to make this healthier simply add some chopped okra and broad beans.

Add sliced chorizo and onion to a pan on medium heat, and cook until brown. Add the spices, then the rice and vegetables with the stock, and let everything cook for approximately 15 minutes on a low heat.

Throw in some parsley and an extra squeeze of lemon at the end, et voila!

Credit to the Minimalist Baker, Waitrose and BBCGoodFood for the images – there’s no way my food sticks around long enough for me to take a photo of it!

What are your go-to recipes after a workout?

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