Sneak Peak – New ‘Drifting Away’ Collection

New Drifting Away Collection Coming Soon | Gypsy Rova Shop

I’m currently busy getting ready to launch ‘Drifting Away’ – a collection of images captured on a road trip around the stunning New Zealand coastline a few years ago.

A selection of prints and products will be available to purchase here soon. Here’s a sneak peak in the meantime.

Enjoy!
PRIVATE PROPERTY-5

Drifting Away Collection | Gypsy Rova

Drifting Away Collection | Gypsy Rova

Drifting Away Collection | Gypsy Rova

2016 – Finding balance during loss.

2016 Finding balance during loss | Gypsy Rova Blog

‘Sometimes the things we can’t change end up changing us’.

2015 was a difficult year for me – a funny old year. Frustrating, stressful and often downright raw; it was a year that I was quite honestly glad to see the back of.

I started out the year full of optimism and hope – I had just launched my blog, completed two diploma courses, and by March I had secured a role in marketing – a career change I had been working towards for over a year. I was feeling more positive about the future than I had in recent years.

Unfortunately, with the loss of some close family members, health challenges and job losses it went downhill as the year went on and while not a ‘bad’ year it did have more than its share of sadness and trials. The year ended with a real blow, when we lost our beautiful mum after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease on New Years Eve.

Somewhere in amongst all of the sadness and bewilderment of the year goals had been long forgotten, my blog was all but abandoned, and I had completely neglected my health. I was feeling overwhelmed, lost and afraid of what lay ahead.

Its taken a couple of months and while I’m still grieving, I do feel like I will eventually come out the other side of it. It won’t happen overnight as they say – but it will happen. So I’m trying to be gentle with myself and give myself time, while also doing the things that I know make me feel more positive, energised and give me a general sense of well-being.

2016 Finding balance during loss | Gypsy Rova Blog

  1. Having a creative outlet – I always feel more inspired and connected when I take the time out to do something creative. Whether it be writing a new blog post, working on blog graphics, enjoying some photography or even spending time browsing Pinterest I am trying to put time aside each weekend for creative pursuits.
  2. Learning – gaining new skills that are valuable either in the workplace or for my blog always motivates me and gives me a sense of achievement. This year I’ve enrolled in an online Graphic Design Diploma, which focuses on the Adobe Creative Suite. I’m really looking forward to getting started!
  3. Eating well – I don’t know about you, but when I’m stressed I have a tendency to comfort eat. I started off last year with such good intentions, but as soon as things started to get on top of me, old unhealthy habits crept back in. I’m trying to get back on the bandwagon this year and be organised with work lunches and healthy snacks to avoid the temptation to go for unhealthy convenience foods.
  4. Exercise – exercise is one of those things I have always struggled with. Once I get started I love it, but finding the motivation to start and stick to it is the battle! So I’m starting off gently with at least 30 minutes three times a week and I’ll work up from there.
  5. Reading – over recent years (probably since I discovered Netflix) I have read less and less. It is something I have really missed and have started to get back into this year. As a child, my mum would take me to the library at least once a week and this was what started my love of books. It was a shared passion and something that always makes me feel close to her.
  6. Having a bedtime routine – I generally find it difficult to get to sleep when I’m feeling stressed and have the tendency to lie awake and allow negative thoughts and worries to creep in. Finding time for quiet reflection and developing a bedtime routine which helps me wind down has really helped (more on this in a future post).

So here’s to a healthier, happier and all-round more positive year. I look forward to sharing it with you through the ups and the downs. 2016, I’m ready for you!

PRIVATE PROPERTY-52016 Finding balance during loss | Gypsy Rova Blog

A week in Corfu

A week in Corfu | Gypsy Rova Blog

 


“Gradually the magic of the island settled over us as gently and clingingly as pollen.” Gerald Durrell

Having already visited the Greek Islands of Santorini, Mykonos and Ios I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the Ionian island of Corfu. I had heard varying reports of a lush green island with stunning beaches, crystal clear waters, and fishing villages as well as tacky beach resorts, and a less charming side. As always I decided to try to set those aside and form my own opinion when I got there – which I am so glad I did.
We visited in May right at the start of the season, which meant long sunny days without the scorching heat of summer, and cool breezy evenings. Without the full onslaught of tourists, it still had that laid back ‘island paced’ feel and the locals were relaxed and friendly. We based ourselves in the North of the island on the outskirts of the village of Sidari – about 45km from the airport. Truth be told, if it had been peak season we would have stayed elsewhere, but we were concerned about having enough facilities open for business in some of the less frequented villages at that time of year.

In the interest of transparency I will say that our first impression of Sidari was mixed – it seemed to be a little run down in parts. It was evident that the tough economic climate had hit hard, however there was a steely determination amongst the locals that it certainly wouldn’t stop them and they would pick back up. Putting all of that to one side our location on the outskirts of the village was quiet and peaceful yet a short ten minute stroll had us on the main strip with a huge choice of tavernas, cafes, bars and restaurants, along with various shops and travel booking offices.

A week in Corfu | Gypsy Rova Blog

 

A week in Corfu | Gypsy Rova Blog

 

Most of the beach side tavernas offer a great breakfast selection, and sitting in the sunshine, overlooking the sea every morning we really did have to pinch ourselves. A stroll through town past the famous Canal d’Amour and into the countryside was the perfect way to work off breakfast and blow away the cobwebs – especially if you’d overindulged in the widely available 3 euro cocktails the night before. Walking down the rural lanes you really see the traditional Corfiot way of life – farmers with sun lined faces and toothy grins full of character would wave as we passed, and women sat gathered in the shade of olive trees going about their morning chores. Farm houses – their terraces draped with bougainvillea, fragrant orange and lemon groves, peaceful country tavernas and endless blue skies all worked their magic and the distant pressures of home soon seemed to fade away. On the way back into town there are several sandy paths winding their way down towards the limestone cliffs which drop into the turquoise waters of the Ionian sea. Steep trails take you down to small secluded coves which are perfect for a refreshing dip as the heat of the day starts to settle in.

 

A week in Corfu | Gypsy Rova Blog
 
A week in Corfu | Gypsy Rova Blog

 

If like me, you’re not content to sit by a pool for your entire holiday there are plenty of excursions which are well worth doing and offer really good value for money. A day trip into charming Corfu Town is in my humble opinion a must do. Also know as Kerkyra, UNESCO world heritage listed Corfu Town is enchanting with its Old Fortress, historic cobbled streets lined with faded pastel Venetian mansions, old churches and sun-dappled squares. There are plenty of shops selling ceramics, leather goods, clothing, jewellery, local crafts and produce. If shopping isn’t your thing relax in the gardens of the Esplanade (Spianada Square), or visit one of the many cafes in the Parisian influenced Liston building with its arched terraces – a great spot for people watching. With a huge variety of restaurants to choose from you can easily spend the evening here and enjoy the cosmopolitan atmosphere as the sun starts to dip.

 

A week in Corfu | Gypsy Rova Blog

 

Also a must do is the idyllic village of Paleokastritsa. Start with a visit to the 13th century Byzantine Monastery, perched high on the hills above the village. With a beautiful bell tower, stunning ocean views and tranquil terraced gardens complete with sunbathing cats, it is well worth the effort. In the village itself there are several turquoise bays to cool off in, boat trips out to explore the caves along the coastline and plenty of options for lunch and refreshments. About 4km from Paleokastritsa is the traditional mountain village of Lakones. Its narrow roads are lined with 18th and 19th century stone houses, and if you are travelling through by bus you will find yourself involuntarily holding your breath while the driver navigates the road. From the vantage point of Bella Vista, a little further along, there are endless views down to the bays of Paleokastritsa and out across the Ionian Sea. For me standing there soaking up the views in the afternoon sunshine with Greek accordion music gently wafting on the breeze will be one of those memories that stays with me forever.

 

A week in Corfu | Gypsy Rova Blog

 

In summing up Corfu, like most destinations is what you make of it. Yes, it is true, times are tough in Greece and you can see this in areas. However, for me the positives far out-weighed any negatives. With only a week to explore we barely scratched the surface of what the island has to offer. The true test is always ‘would you go back’ and for me the answer is ‘in a heartbeat’.

 

TOP TIPS

Talk to the locals – the Corfiots are genuinely some of the friendliest people I have ever come across. If you need advice on what to do and see, how to get there, where to eat, etc. they are happy to help. Their warmth, sense of humour and generosity of spirit made our trip and we left feeling as though we had friends in Corfu.

Eating out – there are a huge variety of places to eat with something to suit everyone. Family run Greek Tavernas are well priced and I have to say serve some of my favourite food on the planet. Greek salads, tzatziki, saganaki, calamari, kebabs, moussaka, fresh seafood – I could go on forever. My personal favourite, and a first for me was the ‘baked feta’ which I will try to replicate on the blog in the future. If, however Greek food isn’t your thing there are plenty of other options from steakhouses and American style diners to Mexican and Italian restaurants.

Self catering – Most accommodation also has limited self catering facilities – great for lighter meals and snacks on a budget. The local stores sell a wide variety of lovely fresh fruit and vegetables, freshly baked bread and pastries, yoghurt, deli meats, olives, sun-dried tomatoes,  and of course feta cheese all of which are great to have on hand.

Vegetarians – As a vegetarian, I sometimes struggle when eating out abroad. However, in Corfu there were plenty of options and I felt spoilt for choice.

Visit out of peak season – I would highly recommend visiting in May, or late September to October if you can. From June – August it can be very crowded and the temperatures also soar. If you are visiting in Spring or Autumn pack some warmer items for the evening as it does get chilly, especially by the sea. A light waterproof jacket and decent walking shoes are also a good idea.

Departing Corfu – when leaving Corfu the queues to pass through customs can actually get so long they go outside of the terminal itself. This can mean long periods of standing in the sun waiting, so make sure you apply sunscreen before you go and take water with you. You will thank yourself for it believe me. Apart from a small stall across the road from the terminal, there are limited places to eat until you get through customs, so it pays to have a small snack in your bag to keep you going as well.

Sunset or Logas Beach – if you are staying in the Sidari area it is definitely worth a visit to Panorama Restaurant/7th Heaven Bar in Logas Beach on a clear evening to watch the sunset. A taxi from Sidari will cost you around 10 euro. Try to arrive a bit early to get a seat with a view in the bar/restaurant. It is a bit pricier than some other places but the views and chill out music are worth the premium. When you’re ready to return to Sidari the bar staff will call you a taxi.

Day trips – at the time of our visit a day trip to Corfu Town was around 10 euro per person. Paleokastritsa and Bella Vista was around 15 euro per person. There are a large selection of other trips on offer, including a day trip to Albania, water parks, horse riding and various cruises.

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A week in Corfu | Gypsy Rova Blog