Tango, Samba & Vogue-ing

Strike A Pose

Strike A Pose

Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once… I’m going to tell you a secret. I know how to do the dance routine to Vogue, Madonna style. And while I can ‘give good face’, given half the chance, I’d love to be able to take to the floor like the contestants on Strictly Come Dancing…

I love, love, love Strictly Come Dancing. So much so, in fact, I wrote a piece for the First Choice travel blog about putting your best foot forward around the world. From the Argentine tango to the Viennese waltz, I ticked off the dance A-Z.

(Note to self: Should’ve included Vogue-ing. Merde alors!)

Read my dancing blog post here.

Strictly, Blackpool & Towers

The Blackpool Tower

The Blackpool Tower

It’s funny how things inspire you. In this case, how a recent stag do up in Blackpool sparked an office debate about towers around the world…

The Tower Ballroom, Blackpool

The Tower Ballroom, Blackpool

In the Saturday night clash of the telly titans – X Factor vs Strictly Come Dancing – my TIVO sights are set firmly on BBC1. Yep, tango and samba win out over wannabe crooners any day. Just as well really since one of my mates works on the sequin-fest that is Strictly. In fact, when it came to his recent stag do, a gang of us trained it up to Blackpool to the famous Tower Ballroom for a private dancing lesson. And yes, before you ask, Lycra was involved. We also got to scale the iconic tower and sip Champers from the glass-floored observation deck.

The Eiffel Tower, Paris

The Eiffel Tower, Paris

Back at work, I told my colleagues about my weekend away and how I got to go up the Blackpool Tower. It got us thinking – or rather arguing – about other towering super-structures around the world. So I pulled together a chart rundown of my favourites. Top of my list was the Eiffel Tower (bien sur!), followed by Space Needle in Seattle, with the Leaning Tower of Pisa taking the bronze medal. The Empire State Building and the Petronas Towers made the grade, too. For the full she-bang, click on the link below.

Read the full rundown here.

Toucans, Treetops & Tiny Frogs

Toucan, Costa Rica

Toucan Play That Game!

I got to visit Costa Rica recently – and it totally bowled me over. Reason being, the colours are out of this world. From lime green to hot pink, this Latin American slice could give the Dulex colour chart a run for its money.

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I’m pretty lucky. As a travel blogger, I get to tick off a lot of the world under the pretext of ‘work’. This time last year, for instance, I was in Cape Town in South Africa. Since then I’ve managed to squeeze in jaunts to Thailand, Majorca and Paris. I’m currently planning out a trip-ette to Mauritius next month. But arguably the highlight of my year – so far – was my visit to Costa Rica.

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This piece of the Latin American puzzle totally blew me away. Tropical beaches aside, it’s jam-packed with action and adventure – think zip-lining, horse riding, rainforest trekking and river tubing. And then there’s the wildlife to consider. From bright-beaked toucans to plucky little hummingbirds by way of uber-cute tree frogs, Costa Rica isn’t backwards at coming forwards on the nature front.

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Red-eyed Tree Frog

Red-eyed Tree Frog

The thing that really sticks in my mind is the country’s colour palette. The shades of green alone rendered me punch drunk. And that’s before you throw in the hues courtesy of the exotic blooms and butterflies. Seriously, I could wax lyrical about Costa Rica’s colour chart but, as the saying goes, a picture can tell a thousand words. So here’s an ‘Instaguide’ I compiled for the Thomson travel blog not so long ago. Enjoy.

Check out my Instaguide to Costa Rica here.

Coffins, Drive-thrus & Strippers

Camp Skeletor?

Camp Skeletor?

Okay, so Halloween might have been and gone, but who doesn’t like a creepy tale or two – especially when it’s based on real life? Here’s my guide to spine-tingling death rites from around the globe…

Freaky Funerals

The saying goes better late than never. And that’s certainly the case regarding this post I penned for the Thomson travel blog – it was written to coincide with Halloween a few weeks ago. And while our obsession with things that go bump in the night has been put to bed for another year, I thought it still made for interesting reading, despite the distinct lack of pumpkins by our doors. After all, anything that deals with death is always worth a macabre glance.

Bonkers Burials

Here, I take a look at bizarre funeral rites from around the world, including having your bones pecked clean by buzzards, being propped up in the corner of the family home for months on end, and even being laid out to rest in a drive-thru funeral parlour. Oh and let’s not forget strippers pole dancing at your wake…

Read my full post here.

Design, Marmite & Lanzarote

Cesar Manrique wind mobile

Cesar Manrique wind mobile

Now that the nights are drawing in and winter has come a-knocking, my thoughts are turning to warmer climes. For a guaranteed dose of sunshine, my money’s on the Canary Islands – Lanzarote to be precise. Here’s why…

Lanza-grotty Or Lanza-hottie?

Many moons ago, I used to live and work on the island of Lanzarote. It’s got a real Marmite factor – people either love or hate it. Reason being, it’s incredibly volcanic. Unlike some of its siblings, like super-lush Gran Canaria and La Palma, this Canary isle is incredibly rocky and barren. In fact, it looks a lot like the moon. So much so, it was was used by NASA as a testing zone for the lunar buggies and once doubled up as an alien planet in an episode of Doctor Who. While some people are turned off by the scorched backdrop – dubbing the island ‘Lanza-grotty’ – I adore it. When teamed with the traditional white sugar-cube houses, the scenery takes on a sleek, almost monochrome effect. To my mind, it’s very much Lanza-hottie.

Los Jameos del Agua, Lanzarote

Los Jameos del Agua, Lanzarote

Hail Cesar!

But the landscape is just part of my Lanzarote love affair. I’m also a big advocate of the island’s most famous son, the artist and designer, Cesar Manarique. A contemporary of Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso, he is one of Spain’s foremost modern artists. His handiwork can be seen across Lanzarote. He went on a crusade to safeguard the traditional look and feel of his beloved island – ensuring the tourist concrete jungles that blighted neighbouring Tenerife et al never befell Lanzarote. It’s down to him that there are no high-rises on the island. He also expounded the marriage of art with nature. This lead to him spearheading a number of funky design projects, including a series of kaleidoscopic wind mobiles, a grotto-come-lido complex, and a restaurant fuelled by a the heat of a volcano.

Lanzarote Legacy

I recently wrote a post for the Thomson travel blog about Senor Manrique and his Lanzarote legacy. You can read it here.