I am SO excited to share a project that has been long in the works, captured over the last summer leg of Mad To Live Retreats x The Surf Experience in Lagos, Portugal.

Shot by the brilliant the Psychic Visions Collective, check out the full mini-short film below, a celebration and showcase of all that is Mad To Live and the Surf Experience.  

Let me know what you think in the comments and stay tuned for the dates for Summer 2018 in Portugal landing this Friday - book here!





The advent of December brings with it the sounding of the claxon of party season.  Sequins at the ready lovers. Many women, whether desk-bound, without the time to, or less inclined to spend hours beautifying like myself, look for fast-acting, long-lasting products,  reading them from the office to the dance floor in one easy swoop.

Check out my run down of my favourite products to get party-ready this season.



L’Incroyable blow dry From Kerastase Gives that Cinderella-esque finish to any do.  Adding to damp hair, and with its heat protecting thermos-protection of up to 230C,  means hair is protected, and sharper than a 6 inch stiletto it's so on point.  Paired with Laque Noire hairspray a finishing touch to any do with extra strong hold and frizz-fighting properties.

Mark Avon lipstick Fresh, gleaming skin is my favourite party look, but I love to finish with a slick of lipstick to ramp up the sassy levels. The new liquid lip laquers from MARK are the perfect mix of long-lasting, sheer and glossy that I love to feel party ready. 

Dr Sebagh’s Skin Perfecting Mask is my go-to product in my pre-party preparation.  This puppy ain’t goin' no where - it is a staple on my shelf and for good reason.  A deep cleansing mask that proects against pollution and imparting a velvety-soft touch, I always slather on whilst in the bath, and emerge like from the chrysalis, skin smooth and soft.

Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Body Oil A long-time favourite of mine.  My favourite scent paired with a gleaming body oil that I spray liberally over the decolltage, shoulders, back, arms (heck, its nearly head to toe) and  special spots like dabbed behind the ears, the sexiest product in my party arsenal means I am feeling femme fatale-esque and reading to hit the town. 

The Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle highlighters are a party in a palette – shimmer worthy of the Bajan princess herself, a slick of either shades on the eyelids or cheekbones imparts a sheer glow and sparkle to rival any disco ball.

Nails INC Holographic Nails are my number one for the party season - a couple of coats lasts endless parties thanks to the long-lasting properties.  Winner.

Chanel Illusion D'Ombre  Eyeshadow that doesn't budge is pretty much a needle in a haystack, the unicorn of party products.  My top choice comes from Chanel, the deeper shades always making me feel hot to trot.

Decleor Aroma Lisse 2-IN-1 DARK CIRCLE & EYE WRINKLE ERASER Has 2 effects I rate:  towards the end of the marathon party cycle that is the festive season, we often are looking decidedly less fresher than the start of the season, perhaps some 10 parties, 50 mince pies, countless glasses of bubbles and 4am finishes later. Deceleor ‘s under eye cream brightens dark circles and plumps with illuminating gold particles, reducing puffiness and the appearance of fine lines. A party life saver.

Tan Luxe Hydra Mousse I road-tested the hydra mousse out of interest recently, perplexed as to how a clear liquid could be a fake tan.  Gone are the thick-cholately, sheet-staining, biscuit scented traumas of tan past.  Tan Luxe’s miraculous formula enriched with raspberry oil which it divinely smells, like does not disappoint.  For those December days when we are feeling the wrath of perma-darkness on our pale skin, an overnight session with the hydra mousse will have you waking up, stain and cookie-scent free, looking like you’re fresh off your summer holiday.  

Chanel Les Beiges healthy Glow luminous Colour With an extra nod to a sun-kissed look, a few sweeps of Healthy Glow over the areas the sun naturally delivers its glowing kiss is the final touch for disco-babes.

Katherine Peterson at Azure Beauty Signature Facials If you're feeling lacklustre or been burning the Christmas candle at both ends (boozy nights can quickly manifest in the skin), a visit to Katherine Peterson, skincare expert and owner of the most trusted hands in the business for a signature facial will address all your skincare problems.  I love the Azure Facial Aerobics facial.

Thanks and stay tuned for next in the Feel-Good beauty series, SOS TREATMENTS...



A week ago Kreativ House (a rad new co-work space) in the heart of Hackney, East London hosted us for MAD TO RAVE: A showcase of all that is Mad To Live.  With a screening of the mini-short film by The Psychic Visions Collective, a collaboration with The Surf Experience, a gallery presenting the best of Mad To Live in action and live art with surf artist Harvey Saunders, an all-time party ensued, well-watered by our friends at BrewDog, Twisted Halo and Craft & Origin, and fuelled by delicious poke bowls from Lords of Poke.

I was incredibly stoked to have partnered with The Wave Project, an amazing UK based charity who help young people to reduce anxiety and improve confidence through surfing.  The Wave Project started in 2010 as a voluntary group funded by the National Health Service in Cornwall. The initial aim was to use volunteers to provide one-to-one surfing lessons for young people with mental health issues as a way of getting them outside, doing physical exercise and feeling more confident about themselves.The first project achieved outstanding results.  The results of the pilot showed that going surfing once a week helped clients feel more confident, improved their outlook and gave them a sense of fun. The participants were young people who other services had been unable to reach.  The evaluation showed that the surfing course had led them to feel more accepted, positive and comfortable with their lives. Encouraged by the results, The Wave Project was established as a not-for-profit company. Further funding was obtained, initially from BBC Children In Need and later from the Big Lottery Fund and other funders, and the project began to grow.  Since then, The Wave Project has developed an award-winning intervention that uses the local surfers to help young people reduce anxiety and improve their emotional health. New projects have been set up all over the UK, including in Wales and Scotland.All of these projects use the same methods employed on the original pilot scheme in Cornwall – getting local surfers to work with clients and teach them to surf. The sessions are delivered by a mix of paid staff and volunteer surf-mentors who work in partnership with established surf schools. 

With a raffle supported with prizes from Vans, Roxy, Seafolly Australia, Skullcandy, Butta, DC, Watershed Surf and Imsy Swimwear, over £350 was raised during the event for this fantastic cause.  Check out all the party imagery below, and the video round-up of the event shot by our great buddies at Cheeky Fire after the photos!

Stay tuned for more from Mad To Live, and check out our retreats and book here.

Thanks to our friends at Kreativ House, Vans, Roxy, Seafolly Australia, Skullcandy, Twisted Halo, Brewdog, Craft & Origin, Butta, Imsy, Lords of Poke and DC.



Canadian snowboarding-supernova Robin Van Gyn has just wrapped a screening of the latest epic cinematic masterpiece from infamous snowboarder Travis Rice and Quiksilver and Roxy, “Depth Perception” in the bustling heart of London’s film premiere hub, Soho.  An unusual place to find a mainly mountain-dwelling athlete like Robin, but it is clear she is exultant, in high spirits riding the wave of an incredibly successful tour of the film which has garnered world-wide critical acclaim.

The previous outings of Travis Rice’s huge-scale masterpieces have electrified the action sports and indeed wider world of sports cinema, the incredible production on renowned movies including The Art Of Flight garnering global attention.  In 2017’s Depth Perception, Travis Rice, who off the back off of previous outings like The Art of Flight has near god-like status (quite rightly) in the upper echelons of snowboarding’s hall of fame, enlists the help of fellow riders Robin Van Gyn, Bryan Fox and Austin Sweetin to explore the whimsically wondrous and little showcased peaks of CMH Galena, British Colombia. 


A smaller cast notably, and also noticeable is the presence of Robin, the first female in one of these large-scale productions yet.  The film is an awe-inspiring spectacle of both mind-blowing snowboarding and technical production that showcases the wildly stirring beauty of the British Colombia Backcountry.  An homage to nature with undercurrents of a quirky Wes Anderson styled journey (visually and through the narrative) that makes for a wholly different and wonderfully epic movie.

Robin Van Gyn’s snowboarding is the stuff of jaw dropping dreams.  Her lines she carves on some of the most mind-blowingly beautiful and terrifying spines, how she sails down pillow lines, is not just a stunning display of snowboarding, but poignantly, really carves a new line through in women’s snowboarding today. A face well-known in snowboarding cinema, Robin, who started her career as a snowboard coach, has appeared in notable movies including the recent all-girl epics Full Moon and Peep Show, is a cover girl of magazines multiple times over, and a long-time athlete of the Roxy family.  Her fearless charging of frothy pillows and the challenging terrain of the backcountry has stood her apart from the pack, seeing her take home accolades including Transworld Snowboarding 2016 Women’s Video Part of the Year for Full Moon.


Wrapping up the screening, Robin reflects that a production of this scale working with Travis Rice was a “new experience for her”, such are the massive levels of production and the number of crew that work into creating a cinematic spectacle of this mature.   “They were very meticulous very planned and the execution was brilliant… we worked with amazing people”.  The people Robin refers to includes film maker Ty Evans, famous for his work on celebrated skateboard movies including We Are Blood, and Directors Justin Taylor Smith & Chris Murphy.  “It takes somebody like Travis to bring those kinds of people together “Robin begins, “it’s cool to have all these different eyes in the production team that’s why you get something like this.”.  Describing the pain staking lengths and time that went into each individual shot reflects the quality of what we’re seeing on the big screen, and Robin adds that “it was definitely a bit of a departure for me but I learnt a lot about film making, and quality and patience.”

Our minds have long been blown by the mountain prowess of Travis Rice, quite rightly a name that will forever go down in the history books of snowboarding and indeed, sport. I wonder if it must have been intimidating, joining a small crew including Travis, San Diego Native Bryan, and Austin, a mind-blowingly talented roster of athletes? “I think at the very beginning I was really intimidated and super scared and like oh my god what am I doing here, do I even deserve to be here, what’s going on. Why am I here?” Robin considers. 

“I began to figure out that I did deserve to be there.  I was there for a reason, and I had to use this opportunity to ride to the level that I knew I could, and push myself”.


The stylistic lines, the smooth riding and tackling of some of the most fearsome of back country lines and obstacles we have seen on screen are elegantly and beautifully carved by Robin, a technicality in her riding that is awe-inspiring paired with a fluid grace that makes for an entirely unique and very much discernible style.  

Robin continues with “I think there’s another thing at play where you’re like, I’m with the guys, but, I’m not trying to be the guys. I’m trying to be ME, and who I am is a snowboarder who is strong and experienced but also feminine. You can tell my line on the mountain next to the guys because it’s just different, I have a different way of using the mountain, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s beautiful in its own thing, an expression of your line on the mountain. It’s just like, your piece of art."

The challenges from an athletic perspective of achieving what went into achieving these shots, lines and effortless-seeming trickery is mind-blowing to anyone who has ever strapped a snowboard onto their feet.  I wonder what Robin found the most challenging part of this experience? “It's challenging dealing with your own mental state” she begins.  I’m a very passionate person so I over think things like crazy …it’s not until after you can step back and be like oh that really didn’t matter. But in the moment, you’re just like obsessively thinking about how you screwed up a shot, you’re beating yourself up..."


"I don’t want to put out this message where it’s all like I stepped onto the film set and here I am killing it, woo! It was…a lot of mental challenges… And you know you compare yourself to the immediate people in front of yourself. But when you have a chance to step back and be like I’m not Bryan Fox or I'm not Travis, I’m Robin!  Focus on that. That was my biggest challenge, not comparing myself to everyone else”.   

When your colleagues are luminaries like Travis, one can only imagine the mental challenges at play here, but Robin’s journey through the execution of the film to bring us the visual feast of snowboarding wizardry is explained by how she believes’`I think we all do this we focus on the small things, and I think sometimes we need to look at the bigger picture, and appreciate where we are, why we're there...I think for me that’s a big one. sometimes I get so focussed on stupid little things when I should I’m like hey I’m here with this amazing cast, and I’m in beautiful setting, and the snowboarding is insane!  Focus on that instead of your shot comings, focus on what you’re doing well, and not the things that you aren’t doing well...

"It's more realising the beauty of everything around you and being able to see that. The beauty of Travis inviting a woman to be in his film, to see the beauty in that. Going out that day and falling down the mountain for the entire day, you were still out in one of the most beautiful places in the world, you know, with an opportunity, you know maybe it wasn’t your day, but there will be another day..."

"So, I think it’s good to keep your eye on the prize. Don’t obsess about it and step back and realise that you are not that important, you know there's like this big picture that you need to kind of, relax, and take a breath."  With the awe-inspiring backdrop of CPH Galena, Robin clearly thrived off exploring the beautifully challenging terrain in BC, and spending time with its colourful locals and highly knowledgably mountaineers.  “I think it’s just incredibly versatile, out of all the places I’ve been snowboarding in my life, this place was the most versatile I’ve ever ridden, pillows, tree runs, high alpine, it has it all”.  With one of the main protagonists of the movie being a tree itself, this feels like Travis Rice’s love letter to mother nature, and the spine-tingling beauty of what is captured, the playfulness of how the quadrant explore the vast terrain, and their interactions with the flora and fauna are wholeheartedly believable.  With a spotlight shone on the colourful locals who know the place better than anyone, who the crew relied on to safely and efficiently guide them around the challenging peaks, Robin laughs that “every country has this underbelly of people who live amongst it.  And they might be a little weird…but they are the ones really experiencing the beauty of It… they get it … they see the beauty in nature and in and they aren't amongst it and that’s something we should be envious of.”.


Robin has long been impressing with her parts in snowboard movies, the aforementioned Full Moon, an all-female production spearheaded by legendary fellow rider Leanne Pelosi signalled a positive moment in women’s snowboarding  Here, Robin explains, “Leanne (Pelosi) our producer really felt like she wanted to communicate was the community that we have in women’s snowboarding…It was really really important for every female snowboarder to see that we support each other, that we have fun, that it’s not all about being the gnarliest, it’s just about the going out there and enjoying yourself and keeping the vibes good. As females…we can be catty. And you know this is not helping anyone."

The tapestry of talent that went into the production of Full Moon includes a veritable who’s-who in women’s snowboarding: backcountry boss Marie France Roy, current Olympic Gold Medallist and multiple X Games Champion Jamie Anderson, legendary pioneers Barrett Christy and Tara Dakides, amongst others snow luminaries.  “I think we’re at a point now where it’s like we’ve been through so much as females and we're in a really good place. but we’ve still got a lot of work to do and we’ve got to support each other… so I think with all female snowboard films that’s that message …but it was also really important to be a part of the bigger films like this one or Absinthe with Kimmi (Fasani)…  she is really pushing the boundaries of her own snowboarding with those guys…"

"I think there’s a need for both. There’s a need for the good vibes and we can push on each other amongst ourselves but then there’s another level of progression... we can ride with guys and feed off of with them, and I don’t think it should be weird to have a girl in a movie”. 

Hopefully this is heralding a new norm in snow cinema and particularly, for women riding in the back country, which Robin describe as “a side mission of mine”.  Continuing her work with coaching and at snowboard camps, Robin explores that “there came a time where I was like I’m working in back country snowboard films, promoting the back country, do I feel comfortable selling people indirectly selling the product that they should go and use in the back country without having any knowledge or means to. So, I kind of had this epiphany where I was like oh my god I’m really pushing the glory and glorifying the back country and making everyone think that oh you can just go do that but in reality, it’s a lot of experience, and skill and I really wanted to make an effort at least to help people to get them the skills and knowledge that they need.  So, wherever I can do that, I do it. Because I feel like that’s a side mission of mine. And I want to see more females I the back country you know were seeing a big gap right now..."

"I don’t wanna be one of 5 females, I want to be one of 25 females doing that professionally, that’s how it should be."


Robin shines when talking about the current mind-blowing levels that is women’s snowboarding in 2017.  With fearless slopestyle queens like Anna Gasser and Klaudia Medlova “Absolutely sending it”, Robin suggest that I actually think the women’s Olympics this year is going to be the television event of our lifetime.  Do not miss that moment!”, and I am inclined to believe her.  South Korea is fast on the incoming in February 2018 and with girls like Anna and Klaudia, and Robin’s team mates, the steadily podium placing young ripper British Katie Ormerod and Aimee Fuller throwing down absurd spins and flips, it sure is lining up to be quite the show. 

And what, you wonder, is on the agenda for Robin?  "I got some little pots boiling all over the place” she laughs, so “you’ll see content out of me for the next few years that’s for sure…And if I ever get the opportunity to go ride with Travis again I will 100% be there!".  


Stay tuned for more in the WHY I series



A viral-video came to light recently that really caught my attention.  The roving (female) reporter spoke to random men in the street, asking them when they last had sex, giving them a high five for it, and if they orgasmed (another high give for that, yeaahhhhh bro).  She then went onto ask the satiated lovers if they knew if their female partners had too, orgasmed during their encounters?  The red-faced, confused and unsure answers varied from “urrrrrr”, “ermmmmmm”, “ummmmmmmmmmm” to finally “ummmmmm …noooo”, mostly (check it out if you haven't).

The uncertainty is as bad as a straight up no in my eyes, and it got me thinking.  This was a disappointing, but accurate, in my opinion, portrayal of what is pretty normal in heterosexual sexual relationships.  By the time you’ve reached your 30s and had healthy, and unhealthy relationships, affairs, encounters, whatever relations you’ve been enjoying as an adult, you’ve probably formed some opinions.

The great thing about the female sex is our openness of discussion.  Men often find this amusing, or even baulk, at the openness as to which women go into great details discussing men, sexual relationships, and every dirty detail (yep sorry guys, we do).  But aside from this providing good chat material, it’s for a deeper purpose: these discussions can be found to be key in a cathartic discussion about one’s sex life: exploring what is good, what is satisfying, and what isn’t.  What we feel that perhaps we can’t say to our partners, we can share in the open, and non-judgemental atmosphere of our closest girlfriends.  And what is a concurrent topic, is a lack of achieving orgasm, or feeling like the partner puts sufficient enough thought into the woman’s experience.  Obviously, many of us, myself included, have had incredibly positive experiences, loving relationships and positive sexual experiences with giving, passionate and loving partners.  But then there is a higher percentage of those experiences where that isn’t the case, where the women can be left feeling dissatisfied, and worse.

According to a recent report by Researchers from Chapman University, Indiana University and the Kinsey Institute found that 95% of heterosexual men nearly always orgasm when having sexual relations.  For women, lesbians fared the best, with 86% achieving orgasm, followed by bisexual women at 66%, and finally, for straight woman, adding a man to the mix drops this down to 65%.    Similarly, the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy took a poll of 1,000 women aged 18 to 94, finding 80% do not orgasm though penetrative sex.  The female body is a complicated, beautiful and slow-burner of a biological wonder.  The mysteries surrounding the female sexual biology and chemistry have long been discussed and explored.  But why is it still that reports are finding such a large number of unsatisfied women?  

What if women were able to speak more openly to their partners about what is working and what isn’t – hey, our anatomy, it’s beautiful and magic – it produces children, it’s the cradle of god damn life for goodness sake, it is complex, and it requires some care, attention and thought.  What smacks of thoughtlessness and selfishness is someone who won’t put in the attention, who doesn’t want to explore what their partner is turned don by, enjoys, what helps them achieve orgasm, which ultimately, can be incredibly bonding in a partnership?   And conversly, on discussing with male friends, this –plays on the female partners’ side too: a lack of care or effort from the female can obviously come into play too.

Websites like the Emma Watson vocally supported OMG YES, a platform that offers informative, research-based approach to women's pleasure that, according to Marie Claire Magazine, “(The site) smashes taboos surrounding female sexuality and treats the female orgasm with an unprecedented seriousness: tackling the complexities surrounding the ways in which women experience pleasure with honesty and no shame” are leading the way for knocking down barriers and destructing the taboo around the discussion of the female orgasm.

It is this need for discussion, what was previously hushed chatter amongst women, now elevated to a wider platform, digitally, in media, not just amongst female friends, but with our male friends, and ultimately, with our partners, that can create a normalcy in this subject.  It isn’t taboo, and it’s appalling that so many women feel the need to “fake it” with their partners, or worse, that their partners aren’t caring if their partners do orgasm or not. Equally for women, it can be incredibly nerve-wracking telling a partner hey, this is great, or hey, this ISN'T working for can be a huge step making that conversation, but much akin to ripping off a plaster, taking a deep breath and opening that channel of conversation can reap great, spine-tingling rewards.  

Positive experiences show that whilst yes, the female anatomy can be complicated, you don’t need a frigging road map: care and attention, being attentive to what is working, that build up and yeah just to add, foreplay is EV.ER.Y.THING.  Sometimes amongst women we talk of guys having a “gift” – if they are in tune to the woman’s needs, if they spend enough time ensuring the female is suitably turned on (not to be crass but there shouldn’t really be any penetration unless the woman is really, really ready for it).  This gift should be more common, the numbers of heterosexual women orgasming much higher.  That report from the Chapman University showing 86% of women in a lesbian relationship reaching orgasm VS heterosexual women at 65% is incredibly telling.  That channel of conversation between men and women should be as healthy.  Here’s to getting to the Big O.






I am super stoked to be collaborating with my adventure partners in crime, the radical folk at KEEN whose brilliant ethos for their #TrailFit movement is about empowering women to get outside and enjoy fitness and the outdoors, something I wholeheartedly subscribe to.

Following our spring/summer hosted workouts across London's rich tapestry of feasible workout spots, I created a new #TrailFit workout for the crisp new winter season.  The changing of the season from summer to the orange and red-tinged hues and bonfire-scented sensory stimulate of autumn and winter is a great time to utilize your outdoor landscape, making the most of this beautiful time of year. Whether that’s your local park, or getting creative with a city environment, or finally, the wider Great Outdoors, this programme is looking at focussing on boosting mobility and strength and endurance through the autumn winter period.  

A few weeks back Cooler Magazine, Keen and myself hosted an awesome group of women for an adventure in the other-worldly Richmond Park in London.  I love to show how accessible outdoor training and adventure is, even in a busy city-landscape like London.  Richmond Park's raw beauty, the stunning park with wild stag and deer cruising by, ancient towering trees rich with secrets, and varied terrain was the perfect setting for the new #TrailFit workout.  Using Keen's women-specific Terradora shoe which is suitable for multi-terrain environments, we absorbed the beauty of the surroundings and our ability to train outside, no gym needed, connecting with nature, and stoking out on the beauty of the autumn vibes.

Check out the video wrap-up of the day below, where we fuelled up pre and post workout with nourishing hearty fare courtesy of Melina of About That Food Blog (Coconut And Mango Granola Bar, Buckwheat Tabouleh with Roasted Aubergine and Tahini Sauce anyone?! - Stay tuned for recipes landing soon!) and keep reading for the #TrailFit workout plan!


Duration: 60 minutes

Warm Up: 

  • Forward and side leg swings: Standing on one leg, swing the leg forwards and backwards, keeping the spine neutral, with straight legs.  Complete and change leg.  Move on to Side Leg swings, swinging the leg across the body in front.
  • Deep Squats with open arm extensions: Drop into a deep squat, keeping the weight on the heels. When fully down into the squat, bring the hands down to the feet, and extend through one straight arm, looking up towards the hand and sky.  Return hand to earth and repeat on other side.
  • Walking lunge with twist: Flex the knees as you step forward with one leg, dropping the hips.  Lower until the rear knee touches the ground, inhaling.  The body should remain in an upright position with the front knee above the front foot. Twist through the body to face side of lowered knee, and slowly return to centre. Driving through the front foot heel, extend both knees to return to standing.  Repeat on opposite leg.
  • Shoulder rotations: Standing with feet hip distance apart, neutral spine, extend arms and make large circles forwards, then backwards.
  • High Knees on SpotDrive alternating knees high, maintaining a braced core and knees thrusting high to hip height.


  • Main Workout: 

    Take one minute rest between sets in set exercises Depending on fitness level or to increase difficulty, decrease rest time to challenge yourself, down from 60 seconds, to 45, to 30. 

  • Light Jogging for 3-5 minutes.
  • Interval Training 5 Rounds: If you’re short on time and can’t fit in longer training sessions, interval training is hugely beneficial, boosting cardiovascular fitness and endurance and strength, in short sharp high-intensity bursts.
  • Setting out a distance of 25-35 metres, sprint as hard as possible the entire distance, then jog back to starting point to repeat
  • Breathing Squat (3 sets of 8-12 repetitions): With the feet planted hip distance apart and toes angled out around 10 degrees, push back the hips as you inhale, lowering and following with the knees with weight on the heels.  Exhale as you return to standing position.
  • March with Twist (3 sets of 15-18 repetitions): Standing with the feet hip width apart and the arms held overhead, core engaged, bring the right elbow to the left knee whilst twisting through the waist, then return to start and repeat on opposite side.  Utilising the core to execute the movement and engage the obliques through motion.
  • Single Leg Sprint (3 sets of 15-18 repetitions): Standing in a low lunge, bend at the left knee with the right leg straight, arms extended overhead.  Hinging from the hip so the chest is over the left thigh, engage the core to lift the right knee to the chest, arms coming in at the sides.  Replace leg on the ground and quickly drive forward again.
  • Hip Hinges (3 sets of 10-15 repetitions):  Standing straight with hands on the hips and feet slightly wider than hip distance apart, engage the core and push ribs down and shoulders back with a neutral neck.  Bending at the waist slowly, maintain shoulders and hips in line and glutes, back and hamstrings engaged.  Bend until parallel, before returning to start position.  Be careful NOT to round the back – a neutral spine must be maintained.
  • Clock lunges (3 sets of 8-12 repetitions per leg): Commencing with the hands-on hips and feet hip distance apart, step the foot forward into a lunge until the knee performs a 90-degree angle.  Return to standing.  Next lunge out to the side with the same leg, the leg bending to 90 degrees at the knee and hip.  Return to standing.  The final movement is to lunge backwards with the leg, with both knees at 90 degrees, return to standing.  Complete 8-12 rounds then switch legs.
  • Single leg: Romanian lift (3 sets of 8-12 repetitions per leg): With the feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in the knees (knees soft), raise a leg off the earth. Flex the knee on the standing leg to activate glutes, and hinge at the hip, lowering the body until it is nearly parallel to the floor.  Pause, then activate and squeeze glutes, thrusting the hips forward to raise the body back to starting position. The hips should be pushed back on the down phase and glutes squeezing as you return to standing, keeping the knees soft throughout.
  • Skating Windmill (3 sets of 10-15 repetitions): Standing on the left leg with the right leg bent behind the body, foot lifted low above the ground bend the left knee and lean forward, reaching to the ground with the right arm in front of the left foot, extending the left arm behind the body.  Jump off the left foot and leap right, bending elbows and hands to bring together mid-air.  Land on the right leg with knee bent.  Repeat other side.
  • Squat jump onto bench / or on ground if no close bench/wall (3 sets of 8-12 repetitions): With the feet shoulder width apart, toes outward at around 10 degrees. Inhale, lower into a squat.  On the exhalation explode in the air with maximum power, driving powerfully through the legs and pushing into the air with the feet, hands above the head in the air and with the core activated and engaged.  Land on the feet with the legs slightly bent before returning into a squat position.


  • Broad Jump to Fast Feet: With Feet hip distance apart, bend at the knees and hinge hips back, with chest remaining upright.  Engage the glutes and core, and propel forward with both feet, landing sot and with chest remaining up. On the toes, take small fast steps back to starting point.
  • Spider man push-ups (3 sets of 5-8 repetitions): In a normal push up position, ensuring the body is aligned from the head to the ankles, inhale and lower the body to the floor, lifting the right foot and take the right leg out sideways, trying to make contact between the knee and elbow.  Return to starting position.



Oh winter you are a cruel edged sword.  On one hand you are imparting your cinnamon-scented gifts a la hot toddys, snuggley evenings in front of Attenborough with a roast dinner, cracklng fire places and warm toes in socks.  And on the other slightly cracked paw is the baffling dehydration, hair frizz, chapped lips and parched cheeks that comes with the advent of the most wonderful time of the year.  Just When we think we have evaded the skin-scorching summer months, winter rears its cosy, central-heating blasting head.  Many of us find our skin and hair even dyer than during summer.  

In the feel-good beauty I talk about some of my favourite products which help me feel my best and maintain a happy inner and outer glow.  Check out my rundown below of my favourite nourishing products for those biting winter months.




MIXA's soothing body lotion is paraben free, and makes parched winter skin battered from central heating and wind-flaying soothed and soft.  Double win.

I am a huge convert to French skincare brand Sananflore, whose organic products are crafted all from botanical plants in France, especially their Rebalancing botanical night concentrate, an organic dry oil that illuminates whilst you sleep, tightening pores and hydrating parched skin to reveal a complexion that could rival a a baby’s bottom. Equally Sanoflore's Rose Ariana Botanica Divine Bare Skin Cleaning Milk does what it says on the tin, infused with Organic Cornflower Hydrosol with soothing and decongesting benefits.  

Tan luxe the butter Gorgeously glossy and soft a butter, this quick-drying, lightweight gradual tanning moisturiser takes all the pain out of at-home bronzing. Richly nourishing and glow-giving, wake up feeling like you’ve spent 2 weeks in the Maldives, not chattering your teeth in London.

Kerastase Paris’s Nutritive Range are the only mane soothsayers I'll trust my parched damaged tresses with.  Whether my hair is getting crisped and frozen solid in the snowflakes of winter’s touch, or on my travels to the tropics in search of waves, I keep my hair nourished and soft with the nutritive range.

Stance Socks Knee High Socks are a winter necessity to keep tootsies cosy and warm when padding around the house, I live in these right now.

Whilst the heady mix of gluwein, intense amounts of snuggling, cold noses pressed against eachother for mistletoe kisses makes for a sexy concoction, parched and cracking lips do not. The whipping wintery winds can play havoc with ones kissers, I love Deceleor’s Intense Nutirtion lip balm to keep my pout kissable and soft.

Nails Inc Vitamin E Cuticle Oil Pen is a simple staple that packs a punch: specially created for targeted hydration of the cuticles, say sayonara to any ragged hang nails and dry nails. 

A solid road-testing of The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid confirms the rumours: this no frills, no fuss brand that strips away flowery OTT packaging where much of the spend in products can be found to provide hard-working, cost-effective products.  The incredibly hydrating Hyaluronic Acid has had a profound effect on my skin which is as glowing and fresh as it would be with summer's kiss.

Pukka Three Ginger Tea is a warming swirl of organic ginger, galangal & golden turmeric that keeps tired winter bodies ticking and healthy.  I pretty much have a main-line to this during the winter months.

Dr Sebagh Skin Perfecting Cream is a daily essential for nourished, clear skin.  Packed with an ingredients list that work to counteract damaging pollutants, and sodium hyaluronate to help prevent moisture loss, a firm Mad To Live favourite for natural, fresh skin.


Thanks and stay tuned for next in the Feel-Good beauty series, DISCO, BABY...



Hot off the back of a recent trip to The Nomads Camp with The Action Academy, a co-working retreat where interjected between workshops and talks to help transition you to be a digital nomad/run your own business we tore down the mountains of Morzine on mountain bikes, wakeboarded Lake Annecy and packed more adventure into a week than you can shake a stick at, is my article in SurfGirl Magazine outlining how you, too, can be a digital nomad.

A daunting prospect for me some years back now, but a few years down the line now, I reflect on this transition, and how you can achieve this yourself too in my favourite bible of all that is women's surf and adventure, Surf Girl.

Check out the full piece below!

With Thanks To The Action Academy

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Recent Mad To Live Reteats attendee and friend for life Natalia Fludra is a woman after our own heart.  To me Natalia perfectly epitomises exactly what I have endeavoured to showcase about Mad To Live Retreats: being a modern, successful woman (Natalia works in law) who also is passionate about actively following her interests and dreams and does not sacrifice them.  A regular traveller in search of dreamy waves and adventure, Natalia is also an incredibly talented writer, penning the whimsically stunning blog Days Of Creature.

We were stoked to have the brilliant Natalia join us on a recent leg of Mad To Live Retreats x The Surf Experience in Portugal this summer, and even more so when we read her righteous piece she penned after her travels with us.  Check out the full story below, and cruise over to the retreat page to nab your space on one of our legendary retreats.

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Long-time friend of Mad To Live the legendary Double Olympic Champion Victoria Pendleton (CBE) was spotted discussing her love surfing and Mad To Live Retreats in The Telegraph recently.

Check it out below, and cruise over to the retreat page to nab your space on one of our legendary retreats.

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Where is better to find inspiration for new narrative than from one’s own experiences?

As I have been single, charting the occasionally murky waters that can be the digital-heavy swipo-sphere of modern dating, it has only been now, at the dawn of my 30s, that I have had sustained single-time.  Having been in long-term relationships for the bulk of my life (heck, I like having a partner, someone to adventure with and chew the fat with on a Sunday over a stack of pancakes), off the back of the end of a recent long-term relationship I have been exploring the somewhat turbulent map of what it is to be a single woman in 2017.

If you’re expecting a blog post-Sex and The City style rife with hot hook-up details, this isn’t it, I would just like to point out.  Rather, this is what I have been discovering during these solo-outings into the single world, and my perceptions of what modern-dating has been like (obviously objective).  Off the bat, I would like to say that for sure, I am very independent and can handle myself pretty well.  Many of my romantic encounters have been positive and I love being single for all the freedom and hilarious stories like you are about to read.

My last-short lived single-spell before finding love in 2016 saw me to decide to hazard a try at Tinder, that RSI inducing app of bewilderment.   After a few hilarious encounters (some good, some bad, just dinner, no cigar), 

Including one with a Swedish Director who actually looked exactly like Thor (if you know me personally, you’ll know I’ll have died on the spot. Shwing), and a dude with a penchant for booze that would give Slash back in the day a run for his money

(necked 10 rum and cokes at a posh members’ club and drunkenly did a runner leaving me with £80 the tab, thanks buddy), I deleted the app after about a month, ascertaining it wasn’t for me.  This decision was propagated by a solid amount of casual sex requests I was receiving across the app (I wasn’t in the market for that), and compounded by a date with another charming boke who informed me on the 3rd date I looked like I had put on “some pounds” (adios loser).

Speaking to other single girlfriends, I became acquainted with words like ‘Ghosting”.  No, not a ghost-hunters special of hunting down Caspar, rather, being such a douchebag, you deal with not wanting to continue to see/speak to someone by just flat-out ignoring them 'til they get the picture. Classy.   The prevelance of the swipe-culture dating apps can be argued to now have manifested the same behavioural trait into the swipees.  Discovering that any encounters’ feelings are no more worthy of time, effort, or just honest human-interaction to inform them that thank you but no thank you, “ghosting” appears to have exploded into the dating-consciousness as a viable method of dealing with peoples' feelings.  How and when did this become acceptable I don’t quite know.  Likewise is perhaps a lack of maturity in confronting with and dealing with one's own feelings  - something I came across with a guy who, on a romantic trip abroad with me, hadn't been not just truthful with me, but more, with himself.  It was when I received messages on a social channel from his ex-girlfriend who he was only just confessing undying love to days before she informed me, to warn me of his behaviour and if I knew the full picture, that I saw then the full picture.  This guy lacked the maturity to confront his feelings (and a respect for his ex, someone he had loved, we were just a fleeting romance) and therefore be respectful not just of his own feelings, but of mine, and his ex girlfriends. I slowly drank a glass of wine, savouring it,  enjoying my surroundings because heck, I was happy, and after 15 minutes told him he'd blown it and that was that.

A recent late night-snogging session in France led me to perhaps the most disturbing of discoveries.  We all have different approaches to dating and what we want at any given time.  At this particular instance, buoyed up by post-surf good vibes and fine (well, semi-priced) French wine, I was keen for some Gallic summer romance.  Making out with the chosen Romeo, I then pointed out that I didn’t want to do anything else than make-out, that’ll do me, thank you sir.  Man, that went down like a lead balloon, and I was incredulous at what I heard back. 

Shit, I thought the very word “frigid” had died out sometime in the late 1990s frat scene, along with even more archaic approaches to “wooing” women such as bashing them over the head with a club and dragging them into a cave.  

This just continued and I was also in-turn accused of being “neggy”.  Don’t worry about me dear readers, I am in a strong place so can take this in my stride and laugh it off (which I did, after throwing the thwarted Romeo out of my room).  But what did concern me after was that shit, there are actually still prehistoric, stupid dudes who go around saying this to women if they won’t want to have sex with them?  For me, I could shrug this off.  But for someone feeling less capable, confident, perhaps a younger girl, that can be a savage stroke, something that can stick with you, or lead you to do something you don’t want to.  Discussing it afterwards with friends and fellow writers, there was a mix of shock and disgust that young dudes still go around saying this to women.   

It is, of course, our own choice who we choose to kiss, canoodle, fondoodle, full-around with and whatever.  To try and break-down someone by casting insults if they aren’t keen, yes it can be laughable in a situation like this, but is also hugely disconcerting.  As women we can find ourselves in these situations, and knowing how to deal with this kind of dim-witted douchery can be hard to do if at a younger age, or just lacking in some self-confidence (which we all damn well do at times in our lives).  The older you become most of the time the more you see any form of bullying as an exhibition as just the other persons own issues, or just plain old idiocy and naiveté.  

Reminding yourself of your value and worth, and never questioning it, especially in the face of situations like this, is critical.  As I have seen with girlfriends, we often can have a long-run of frogs before we find our princes.  Circumstances like this can batter self-confidence cumulatively, but each time these moments happen, also serve to buttress and cultivate our own confidence.

If you are confronted with stupidity, you should actively remind yourself of your own awesomeness and worth. That guys like this, they are another example of what you actively aren’t looking for, and what qualities and traits for a hook-up/partner/life partner matter to you, to make YOU feel radical and happy.  

In reminding oneself of this, when navigating the tempestuous single landscape, batting off the sex-pests, broken souls, old-fashioned neggers who still think bringing someone down is the key to unlocking the code to their pants, and the fast-swipe culture that has manifested from the smart phone into the ghosting real-life domain, is critical more than ever.  Often we can be so quick to hunt and dismiss, such is the nature of modern dating.  Taking a step back, allowing a more organic approach, putting less pressure on oneself and also remembering that everyone is a human with feelings, being kind can take you a long, long way. 


Keep At It Lovers


















"One of those tales I'll be telling my grand kids one day...."

How I love running women's surf retreats.  It could be selfish but sheez, I am just getting to meet the MOST radical awesome ladies doing this, and making incredible new friends.  So from a selfish perspective, I LOVE IT as I am making so many brilliant new friends, women that are inspiring me in turn to be creative and do epic things.

"Over the week every single one of us progressed so much. It was an awesome personal achievement, we really turned into a little community and felt stoked for each other improving and catching some great waves. I never thought I'd meet a group of strangers and immediately get on so well with them."

Our most recent leg of retreats in Portugal with our homies at the Surf Experience had all-round legend, founder of the kick-ass blog YOI DACHI (check it out.  It is EPICNESS on another level) join us for our week of surf, shred adventure and general bad-assing.  Hanging out with Bec, a martial arts, surfing, wolf-owning, fellow metalhead enthusiast was a highlight of my trip and I loved seeing her throw herself at everything on offer, a true Mad To Live-er if there every was one.

"Sophie and the SE guys and girls put in a hell of a lot of effort to give you the best week of your life. And no, I'm not exaggerating. It literally was that for me."

Check out what this radical soul made of the trip below, and stay TUNED for all the retreats landing in 2018, book here!

"I made some friends in the space of a week that I hope will last a lifetime — people that have made me think differently about my own life, given me a fresh outlook..."


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Cornish born and bred lady-slider, the London Surf Film Festival Director, author and screen writer Demi Taylor has been a stalwart of the surf-ciné world and the global creative surf movement.  Co-author of numerous surf and travel books with her partner Chris Nelson, 7 years ago Demi & Chris gave birth to a vision to celebrate the unique and iconic British surf industry.  Years down the line, The London Surf Film Festival is a beating heart not just of the UK surf scene, but the global waters, hosting international film-makers, surfers, ocean lovers, dreamers and thinkers.

Demi’s honest love for the water and surfing is a testament to what chasing and pursuing your passions can lead to.  I have been lucky to work with and enjoy spending time with Demi at numerous London Surf Film Festivals, and thought it about time I pinned down the doyen of all that is surf cinema down for a natter.  Kick back for the next in the WHY I series of interviews with inspiring women, with author, surfer, purveyor of good vibes, and co-founder of the London Surf Film Festival, Demelza Taylor.

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With a child-hood routed in travel and a connection to the ocean and all its rich, rewarding treasures, Demi Taylor is a name quietly synonymous in the surf industry with fostering and promoting creativity and the celebration of surf-culture.  Growing up in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and California, it was only when returning to the “wild-west shores of Cornwall, “– Penwith – (“where the world falls into the sea” according to Demi), in the last decade that Demi began to “really know and feel that I’m from here. Before, that sense of place wasn’t really important.”

A life-long lover of the ocean, whether that was in Saudi Arabia or during “relentless” day trips to Sennen, surfing and travel, and all the rewarding creative endeavours that can come from enjoying the fruits of mother nature’s waters, Demi ruminates that

“I think the sea always meant freedom to me. “


A bonafide water-baby if there ever was one, the sun-kissed, smiling face of Demi can often be seen exploring both British or international waters, surfing “but anything (within reason) goes – I bodysurf, bellyboard, ride a surf mat – always underinflated, I have quite a few boards but am madly in love with my Bing…”.

An honest passion for surfing led Demi to score her “dream gig" working on the PR (team) for Quiksilver and converse at Exposure after graduating.  A baptism of fire into the high-energy and high-fun world of action sports, like many of us who have lived, loved, worked and breathed in the action sports industry, it is those unforgettable moments that this awesome industry of ours can proffer that are so memorable.   Demi laughs that “I certainly got a real education at the Quikcup – that over night party train from Biarritz to Les Arcs is the stuff of legend…50 of the world’s best surfers, skaters, snowboarders plus all the boardsports press… beers, pizzas and… well, what happened on the train stays on the train !”

But where in this story did the foundation of the London Surf Film Festival, the iconic UK-based celebration of surf culture and cinema that has fast become the nucleas and beating heart of creative celebration and the bringing together of our patchwork of awesome souls in the surf industry, find it’s place?


“It was born where all the best ideas come to life, round the kitchen table” Demi begins.  In “2010 Chris Nelson (my boyfriend and writing partner) and I were talking about the UK surf community and the creativity that exists on our shores. We realised there wasn’t really an event that celebrated what we have here in the UK. We’re both writers who have been writing about surfing and travel for the last 20 years really – books & articles.

Demi with partner and London Surf Film Festival Co-Founder Chris Nelson

Demi with partner and London Surf Film Festival Co-Founder Chris Nelson

We were already in touch with a lot of great filmmakers, photographers, makers & doers about their projects so it just seemed like a natural progression to bring those creatives together and create a platform for them… about 6 months later in 2011, LS/FF was born. We had Keith Malloy bring his beautiful film Come Hell or High Water to the first event and we were off!”.

The amount of time, love and passion that is clearly poured into the LSFF, the curation of its program and its bringing together of some of the industry’s most stoked, influential, colourful and brilliant souls is apparent if you have ever connected with or been to the festival.  I will never forget some of my favourite moments of the festival having been a long-term attendee myself.  Getting goosebumps on my arm watching North Of The Sun by Norwiegen film-makers Inge Wegge and Jorn Ranum, and seeing them surf beneath the Northern lights.  Celebrating UK based surfer Oli Adams’ success with him as he took home British film of the year for his one-man creation The Hunt For Hipmasama in 2014.  Sitting through 5 hours of film and forgetting my bottom complaining as I was blown away by some of the most raw and beautiful film-making I've seen full stop, that projects and epitomises what I love about surfing. 

Demi at LSFF 2014 with Laura Enever Whitney Gilmore, Isabel Freeman, Ava Warbrick, Elsie Pinniger and Steph Gilmore

Demi at LSFF 2014 with Laura Enever Whitney Gilmore, Isabel Freeman, Ava Warbrick, Elsie Pinniger and Steph Gilmore

Demi shares the thought process of what goes into the formulation of LSFF, in that “every year we try to curate a festival that resonates with us and what’s going on both in the UK and in the wider surfing world so that it’s an authentic slice of surfing right here and now. " 

"We wanted it to be a community event for everyone and to bring together and celebrate the creativity that exists in surfing as well as the sheer level of talent both in and out of the water through art, music, photography, makers, doers….”.

I love LSFF it for its intoxicatingly authentic and happy bringing together of those passionate about the water in its many creative and active guises.  If you haven’t explored surf-cinema, there are so many highly talented souls creating incredible works of art that effectively portray that hard-to-pinpoint energy and raw appeal that surfing proffers.  I wonder if Demi had always been surf a cinéphile in her life, as she is now synonymous with being a huge catalyst for the celebration for surf cinema now?  “I was a member of the Bradbury Junior School film club so I went to school on a Saturday morning to watch movies in the school hall… does that count??” she laughs.  Adding that

"I’ve always loved the multi-dimensional way of telling a story through film bringing together sound and vision to create a narrative. “


A story-teller herself, Demi adds that “story telling has always been a big part of surf culture – telling tales of waves ridden, points discovered, places been. It’s an important aspect of any community, that oral tradition, it binds people together and creates the folklore that is the bedrock of a culture. “I too see the importance and of chronicalling the mystical nature of surf culture.  As Demi attests,

“You realize as heroes, pioneers and friends are lost, that if those stories aren’t recorded they’re gone forever.”

This year saw the passing of one of the most iconic founding-fathers of the international surf world, Jack O’Neill, founder of surf-brand O’Neill, creator of the modern wetsuit, and instantly recognizable pirate-patched wonder of the water.  With so many global paddle-outs held in Jack’s honour following his passing, Demi shares that “. This year we were honoured to be asked to write the tribute film celebrating the life of Jack O’Neill. In doing so we were given the opportunity to talk to those who knew Jack the best and really explore the impact of this incredible surfing pioneer….”.

THE LSFF’s 7th inception finds Demi “STOKED! We’re lucky to work with some pretty epic people and we have some very talented people coming to the event to present their work, so yeah, I feel pretty stoked.”  With her highlights of this time including the “1st night at LS/FF 2011 full house, …beers with friends, Steph Gilmore, Chasing Zero live AV set last year … I still have tingles, The Shorties – creating a platform for homegrown filmmakers, the shaping booth year 3, introducing UK creatives to each other…Then of course that time the boys from Reef played, and Colin Macleod, Auction for the Promise Club… it’s been pretty fun.”

With her partner Chris Nelson, Demi is also busy weaving stories and creations within the industry..    Co-writers of “The Ripple Effect” for Redbull TV, Demi and Chris spent last year writing this documentary series that explores the lives and achievements of some of youth cultures “most exciting entrepreneurs – from the founders of Atari, Moog Music, Wired Magazine to the likes of GoPro and Hurley… it’s been great putting all that film watching to good use.” 

Demi is a driving force especially within the UK surf scene, a tireless champion of bringing together like-minded souls, of fostering talent and creativity and of the radical, different patchwork that makes up the UK surf scene, an unfamiliar playground for many global surfers who may even date the existence of waves on these small isles.  I enquire as to what it is about our funny little industry here in Britain that Demi loves?


I love the way we all pull together and we get stoked on what other people are achieving. There’s plenty of room for everyone! There are all the big events and comps but what really stokes my fires are the events on the fringes meaning there’s something for everyone – whether you ride a surf mat or a vintage single fin – you can find your crew….what we have in the UK is pretty special.”


At the heart of Demi Taylor’s talented and multi-armed creative is that genuine love for surf and travel. A particular trip in 2001 appears to have really served as a catalyst and ignited change, when Demi “quit my job in PR in 2001, bought a camper van and Chris and I headed off on a year-long odyssey along the Atlantic Coast of Europe travelling from the Orkney Isles to Morocco. We spent a year surfing, road ripping, writing, researching, interviewing, exploring and photographing came home, got a publishing deal and it set us off on a new path. We’ve written I think 7 surf and travel books together…”.

This formidable force is unstoppable and with more “surfing, writing, travels and films” on the horizon, the future is sure to be an exciting place for Demi Taylor. 


Find out more and head to the London Surf Film Festival 



I recently spent a week with the Nomads Camp at the Action Academy in the breathtaking town of Morzine in the French Alps.  I was galvanised by this unique concept, finding so much professional and personal inspiration whilst housed in the stunning year-long snow and summer resort.  My interest was immediately piqued when I read through the concept for the Nomads Camp: a working retreat so to speak, where a group of burgeoning/budding entrepreneurs/digital nomads are brought together to spend time on workshops to help with our respective businesses, listen to talks from like-minded business owners, hot-desk from the outrageously beautiful mountains, and pepper our working day with the radical activities all of us craft our lives around.

From learning about growth hacking for my business to hearing how other former-city dwellers created their dream lives, living in the mountains whilst being able to work and be more productive than in the typical constraints of a classic 9-5, and enjoy the fruits of their labours by taking the afternoon to go for a ride in the mountains or wakeboard down the lake, I was massively inspired from my week in Morzine with an all-time crew of international digital nomads.

After a week of hiking mountains to watch the sun-rise at dawn over Mont Blanc, swimming in the crystal waters of Lake Montriond, tearing the downhill mountain bike trails apart, dancing hot-tub side and learning so much practical advice for my work, I sat down with the Action Academy crew to be interviewed (the tables turn on me ;) ).



Talking through my working and personal life trajectory, check the video below for a natter with the gang.

With Thanks to the righteous Mickey and Doug

Find out more about the Action Academy






If when I say women’s swimwear and female empowerment go together in the same business strategy, I can understand how you could have your doubts, raise an eyebrow and potentially utter a likely hmmmmm.  But Kristina Maciukaite and Gerda Mickevicuite, owners of Bali/Cali -based swimwear brand Makara, are trying to turn the tables on the traditional narrative surrounding women’s swimwear quite frankly, on its head.  The status quo of what we expect and by-default nearly always accept, perhaps such has been the sustained portrayal and prevalence by brands and the media of what a woman in swimwear “should” look like and is depicted as – is namely, "sexy" (in whichever media outlets subjective portrayal that is).   Nothing wrong with being sexy, and heck, as women, what is funner than embracing when we feel and enjoy feeling sexy?

But there can be more to this, especially when we introduce the discourse of swimwear for sport.  In recent years there has been a noted change in this narrative, as with increasing numbers of women taking to watersports and requiring kit that does more than simply look good aesthetically, but serves a functional purpose.  Makara, born out of the founders’ needs of a functional, practical, stylish option for water-women who love to surf, has been looking to challenge the typical perceptions of women’s swimwear.  With a clear-rooted passion for empowering women through its designs and overall brand ethos’ and ideologies, I spoke to co-owner Kristina Maciukaite about their manifesto for change, supporting women’s communities, and how not adding bra cups to swimwear is empowering.


Kristina Maciukaite and business partner Gerda Mickevicuite, both Lithuanian born, met whilst sharing waves in California, bonding over a burgeoning and shared love of the surf.  Heading back to her home in Bali, Gerda’s stoke for surf was duly ignited, but on her return, found it difficult to find a suit to surf in that served with a more functional purpose. Kristina expresses that “she really couldn’t find a...suit to surf in where your breasts stay in place, and you feel elegant and look good, something that’s sporty and still looks good, (with) minimal design…". 

So Gerda created a suit herself, with no thoughts of starting a swimwear company, just the desire to have a suit that fitted her needs and also looked stylish. Kristina adds “and this is how Makara was born. For comfort, for practicality, for elegance, for empowering women.”

With its clean lines and minimal designs, other women in the water were quick to spot the unique cuts and performance of Gerda’s suit, and began lining up to request an order. Kristina adds the brand aims to help women “be free in the water… (it is) definitely geared towards adventurous women because yeah, you could wear it at a pool party BUT it is created for women that are very active in the water.  “The suits totally hug your body, we use very high quality materials for the purpose of it to not slip off and you feel entirely free...".

On exploring their platforms and content and the communities that they support Makara’s roots and passion in empowering women is unequivocal.  Kristina attests that “our whole vision is for women to be strong… I’ll tell you a little bit about my partner and I. We both have very strong characters, we’re very independent, were very career driven, but as well we try to be involved in women communities as well, and try to empower women.”. 


Makara actively work to support local women’s communities in Bali, including supporting local motorcycle ride-outs, where women join together to ride and explore the island.  An organic-cotton t-shirt was born out of this, addressing the needs of the riders; “we also just started an organic cotton line... the first t-shirt was created for girls that ride motorbikes.   We called it the motor t-shirt…".

With a vision that includes developing and fostering women’s communnitues, banding together like-minded women Kristina explores that “we try to build relationships, and we donate clothing to women that cannot afford it that surf”.  The content on their channels also illustrates their mission particularly in empowering and supporting local Indonesian women   I ask Kristina to elaborate on this, on how she views the current state of men and women in the typically western countries, versus Indonesia.

“I still feel like we live in a man’s world whether it’s the United States, or England, or Indonesia…yes its different levels entirely, but I do feel like there’s that glass ceiling of women earning less than men…"

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"In Indonesia especially … this …division between men and women where the traditional rules are so so hard to break out from, whereas you know in the united states or Europe if you’re a rebel and you just want to do what you want there’s a lot of people that would understand you and support you…".

"In Indonesia we felt like the social pressures are still extremely high due to maybe religion, social constructions, family traditions…we try to inspire women to follow their dreams and to tell them that if you want to be active and you want to achieve something for yourself, follow your dreams…".

I am interested to find out more exactly about how swimwear itself, how a product, can be directly empowering.  It’s all good and well to claim this from a marketing perspective, but it we dial it down to the nuts and bolts, I was intrigued to find out how, aside from their mission statement, the products truly play a role in this?  Kristina highlights that within their suits they do not use breast cups at all;

“We refuse, because we’re really about the natural beauty of a woman, and feeling comfortable and confident in the way we look... 

Yes, we may have cellulite, yes we’re aging, every single day and minute, but we are very much about making women understand that confidence is really the key to happiness and achieving something, and actually following your dreams, learning to stand up on that board…". 

"It’s about you being confident, and we don’t want to put the cups for example because it’s beautiful to show the breast that you have, not necessarily show them, it’s part of the design, it’s part of our vision”. 

I find this refreshing, as for sure, we are assailed daily, even more so our modern day with the explosion of social media, of “perfect” women across all digital channels.    I personally am almost thankful that my formative teenage years, when we can be susceptible to feeling practically self-conscious and confused, didn’t have the extra burden of social media showing me it’s version of what a beautiful woman looks like.  Kristina agrees, adding that “You have this media image of a perfect image of a perfect woman with breasts that are standing up straight almost, no cellulite...but that’s not reality, that’s not the reality of most of us, I think everything media is doing especially the magazine covers, is unrealistic expectations of women that are being built. Then you have all these women running to plastic surgeons, trying to be that perfect photo shopped version of themselves which is just not possible.  I think that takes away a lot from daily happiness of themselves”.


In terms of their belief in how confidence is the key to empowerment, Kristina delves a little deeper, exploring how happy women can be key to elevating women’s confidence:

"I think the more the happy women and happy people we have in this world the easier life will be for everyone… when you have hobbies, when you follow your heart…you know, you’re a happy woman (me-thanks Kristina) that will help others than try to compete and hurt another woman because you feel insecure…

"I think promoting this confidence and just saying whatever you see in the latest magazine is not realistic and the cups you want they are unnecessary, your breasts are not perfect…they ARE perfect!"

With such a powerful manifesto whose narrative is relayed across its digital channels, and sown into it’s very products, it seems like Makara’s industry-shaking vision has great plans, including elevating the importance of their work with organic, sustainable cottons.  And with an active call encouraging women to band together, to explore hobbies, and to embrace their natural beauty, it is industry-shakers, renegades, creative and entrepreneurial women like Kristina and Gerda who are leading this charge of change that so sets souls like mine on fire.



To find out more, visit:






I was so excited to train the brilliant Rose Beer recently for a feature in Grazia Magazine exploring how to unlock happiness.

The whole ethos of Mad To Live and the training around it is about fundamentally feeling happy, and that being strong, capable, and exploring adventurous sports in the outdoors is something I believe is paramount to this. 

 Check out the feature below.  With thanks to the amazing Rose Beer!

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If you’ve been tuning into the action from the Mad To Live Retreats x The Surf Experience weeks in the stunning, golden hued, lemon-tree scented shores of southern Portugal, your keen eye, like many others, may have been glued to the delicious imagery of the food that is served to the guests, and to the effusive and brilliant chef, Rachel Snow.

With so many of you commenting on the formidable culinary force and her mouth-watering creations that are served up to hungry retreaters during the week, I thought it was high time to sit Rachel down for a chat, to find out a little more about the woman behind the incredible food of Mad To Live x The Surf Experience retreats.  Settle down for a chat with the incomparable Rachel Snow.

Hailing from Newcastle Upon Tyne, Rachel Snow’s sunny and infectious energy has captured the attention of not just the guests but those tuning into the action of Mad To Live Retreats x The Surf Experience in Portugal.  Her incredible, heaped-up platters of seasonal-focussed fare have been a clear highlight of many of the guests staying, hungry hands devouring slow roasted trays of tender lamb drizzled with pomegranates, roasted tomato tarts, frozen berry cheesecakes and home-made paellas.

A now avid surfer, Rachel had travelled and lived through the Bahamas, Northern Ireland and India, before a holiday in Sri Lanka 5 years ago and a first try at surfing ignited an enduring passion for surf.  Admitting that she was “blown away by it” after her first time surfing, Rachel then came on holiday to Portugal, where surfings loving touch continued to cast its spell over her, “I just couldn’t believe how surfing affected me…” she explains.

A two months work placement led her to realise that “Portugal was for me, Lagos was the life surfing every day, beat any other options”.  5 years down the line, she is a seminal force of the Surf Experience, Europe’s longest standing surf and lifestyle camp, where her meals are the stuff of legends.  It might seem hard to believe but it has only been in those last 5 years that Rachel really began to flex her culinary muscles, where “it developed, or where I realised I have a real interest in it”.

The larder that is Portugal’s local produce clearly is a huge influence in Rachel’s cooking.  When describing her style, she admits that “it’s definitely seasonal, I think when I came here I really enjoyed cooking. I always loved fresh flavours, loved the Thai influence, chillies… But to come here and be surrounded by fruit trees and pomegranates and lemons and whatever you want, you can pick and eat and it taste so amazing, …I think my style has developed from having everything on your doorstep and putting flavours together”.

"I think the most important thing here is that food tastes how it should taste. You don’t need to complicate it, you don’t need to add too many things. You just let the ingredients speak for themselves."  

I ask her what she would recommend to people who are keen to introduce a more seasonal style to their cooking, it can be a minefield when wondering how and where to start?  "I think definitely go find your local farmers markets. I think everywhere in the UK you've got places you can go and get fresh, seasonal, organic... have a look on the internet what grows when.  I go to the market and I look for the boxes with Portugal on them."

From a nutrition perspective, on Mad To Live Retreats, with the abundance of daily activities including long surf sessions, trail running, horse-riding, mountain biking, yoga, boxing, and sometimes dancing at night, keeping the guests energised and fuelled is critical.  The well-thought out menu takes this into account, and I ask Rachel to explain "I think it comes from the fact that I’m very energetic as well, I like to surf as well every day.  I also know what my body needs to allow me to spend hours in the water plus do a job."

Wondering what the woman herself would eat to fuel herself for a long session in the surf, Rachel ruminates "I like to have soaked oats with lots of nuts, fruit, or some eggs, avocados, especially when its in season here, they are amazing...I just don’t think overload with sugary, quick energy breakfast, have something which is going to slowly burn and keep you satisfied until lunch time."  And post-surfing recovery? "I love a smoothie, frozen bananas, when I get back, put some oats in, frozen fruit quite often when they are seasonal, peaches now...I cut them up and put them in the freezer and put them in smoothies."

Mad To Live Retreats Chicks

Mad To Live Retreats Chicks

During the retreats Rachel is a pretty integral force, and I pry as to how she feels about the experience of it? “You come away feeling so empowered, it's really good energy.  You meet so many fun, interesting people “.  Something commonly noted and near discernible from both the food Rachel lovingly serves, and even in the content captured of her in action, is that she pours so much good energy and love into what she is doing.  I ask her if she agrees with that:

“I definitely think that’s my secret ingredient.  I love my job, I love having so many people kind of appreciate what I do...(and) how it makes people feel. I definitely feel that the love I put into the food is kind of the most important factor.”

This is clearly the emphasis on Rachel’s cooking and the food on offer at Mad To Live Retreats and The Surf Experience. Fusing a wholesome approach to food, with a core understanding of what is needed for the guests to stay energised and recover, and ultimately, an enjoyment of food, and of spending time savouring local flavours and feasting together as a crew, is a key part of the experience. 

And finally, what would be her last meal on this fine planet of ours be? "I love a nice spicy Thai laksa…starter...I love a chicken liver pate. Weirdly, I don’t think that would go with the laksa!…Dessert…. custard! I love custard (laughs) Cocktails? Definitely a good, strong margarita!"

A woman after our own heart!

Keep reading to check out two of Rachel's recipes!


Summer salad of roasted broccoli and macerated veggies

Serves 6


2 heads of broccoli

1 pepper ( colour of your choice)

Half small white cabbage

Half courgette

Mange tout/ green beans/ asparagus is readily available

Nuts of choice

Blueberries optional

1 red chilli

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

Sugar/ salt/ pepper

White wine vinegar

Olive oil

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Dijon mustard

Finally slice half small white cabbage and put in a bowl with a spoon of coriander seeds. In a bowl mix 1 tablespoon of sugar in half a cup of cold water. Add 2 tsp oops salt and a slosh of ww vinegar. Mix until sugar and salt has dissolved then taste. It shouldn't taste too sweet or to vinegary. Add to the cabbage and massage with your hands. This can be left for a few hours or overnight in the fridge. Cut the broccoli in bite size florets and put in a bowl. Add 1 chop chilli, salt, pepper a slosh of olive oil and zest of one lemon. Mix with your hands to make sure it is all coated and place on a oven tray.

Put in a pre heated oven (190 ) and set the timer for 4 half minutes. ( I like my broccoli crunchy but if you prefer it softer add another 45 secs). If using nuts or seeds place on a oven tray and place in oven. Different seeds take different times to roast so check every 5 minutes. If pressed for time just chop roughly and don't roast although it does effect the flavour. Wash your ur raw veg and then prepare.

Half the courgette and using a spoon scrape the softed seedy part of the inside out. Then dice the remaining courgette to small cube size. If using green beans blanch in boiling water for 45 secs and cool under cold water. I tend to eat mange tout, asparagus raw and chopped but it is a personal taste. Chop the pepper into strips.

Take 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard and add half cup of cold water. Mix throughly then add a small slosh of olive oil. Place all the veg ingredients into a bowl and pour over the dressing. Mix throughly with your hands and sprinkle the nuts over the top.

This is a versatile salad that can have anything added or taken away depending on preference. Good additions: blueberries, feta, olive, water cress, chickpeas.


Chilled Avocado Soup


Small Onion

Coconut Oil/Sesame oil

Half a pint chicken or vegetable stock

1 to 2 ripe avocados

One Chilli

Juice of 1 lime

Toasted seeds/fresh corn topping

This soup can be eaten hot or cold. I prefer it room temperature!

Sauté a small diced onion in oil of choice until it is translucent and soft, I like coconut oil or sesame oil.

Make half pint of veg or chicken stock and put in fridge to cool down. Scoop out one/2 ripe avocados depending on the consistency you want into your blender, add stock, one chilli, juice of 1 lime and blend. Check for seasoning...add more lime/ chilli as desired. I add toasted seed and some fresh raw corn for texture, but you can freestyle with things like spinach, cucumber ( both will add liquid to end result.) add a little Greek yogurt for extra creaminess. I haven't tried it but I imagine that this can also be frozen to be used at a later date.


All imagery Hannah Edy side for group Mad To Live shot, surf and recipes

To sample Rachel's epic cuisine for yourself, Mad To Live Retreats x The Surf Experience only has 3 spots left in 3 retreats over September - find out more here & book and stay tuned for new dates for 2018!








Welcome back to feel-good beauty on the Mad To Live Blog.  Next-up, we have a segment on multi-purpose products that are awesome for busy women on the move.  I spend most of my time living out of suitcases and backpacks now, on the move travelling with my retreats, Mad To Live Retreats, and as a travel writer. and freelancer.  I pack light, always - hand luggage nearly 100% of the time so in terms of beauty products, the few products that I do like to use and pack need to have multi-purpose attributes. 



GARNIER SKIN ACTIVE PURE ACTIVE CHARCOAL 3-1 WASH, SCRUB MASK A bang for your buck 3-1, I am obsessed with this, especially as a mask.

CHARLOTTE TILBURY OVERNIGHT BRONZE & GLOW Super hydrating and soothing, go to bed with this baby on and wake up with a subtle glowing tan. 

CHANEL LES BEIGES HEALTHY GLOW GEL  Loaded with SPF, hyaloronic acid and antioxidants.  Glowin' like a peach after this. 

CHARLOTTE TILBURY BEACH STICK If I am after a pop of colour or want to look a little bit more put together, I can use this beach stick on my cheeks, eyes, lips, and it smells good enough to friction' eat. Paraben free too.

CHANEL LES BEIGES BLUSH NO.23 Adds a flush of colour and super easy to pack.

FACEINK BRIGHTEN UP SHEET MASK Loaded with collagen, pearl protein, hyaluronic acid, these puppies pack a dream in a bag.

NAILS INC WHITE OUT I just pack one nail varnish, Nails Inc long-lasting polish in White Out which doesn't chip nearly as fast as other brands.

RMS LIVING LUMINIZER Made with all natural-ingredients, this baby is a WONDER.  Use on eyes, cheeks, lips, body, it is dreaaaaaa-m-eyy.

Thanks and stay tuned for the next video on summer beauty!




I was lucky to spend a few days with the Vans pro surf-team recently in the lushly wild Mundaka, a pocket in the Basque region of northern Spain that brims with adventure, surf, and a raw, primordial energy that is apparent and palpable in it’s vast mountains, Neolithic cave-painting remains and breath-taking vistas.

Sharing waves, camp fire stories and heart-pumping hikes with the Vans team, I sat down with 25 year old French-Caribbean surf queen Maud Le Car to chew the fat, and find out more about this intoxicating force of nature, delving deeper into her motivations and passions.  

Settle down for a read with the phenomenal Maud Le Car.

25 year old Maud Le Car Rips. Whether she’s busy following the WQS  (Women's Qualifying Series) surf tour circuit (where is is currently ranked in the top 30), free-surfing for shoots and videos (including this video of her surfing in high heels, which went viral some time back), or exploring her creativity through art, Maud seemingly throws not just vast amounts of hard work into her work, but equal parts of passion.  I love watching her surf, with a radical, unique style that is highly impressive and always fun to watch.

Maud has been surfing since she was 12 years old, practically considered old in the modern day, with groms taking to the water younger and younger.  But if there is something that is apparent from talking to Maud that has clearly stood her in good stead, spurring her on, progressing, seeing her take on a number of wins on the QS, is her ethos towards bettering herself and continuing to progress and move forward from both successes, and failures.  Reflecting that

I think in everything you’re doing in life, you sometimes hit a wall, in that you have bad moments and good moments, and you just to grow from these experiences…”.   


Competitive surfing, and sport in general, can be a double-edged sword, and with the mental game playing as big a part as the physical, Maud shares that

There is a quote I love, they say you fall maybe 8 times but you stand up 9 and that is the real thing… this is how a contender and a champion make the difference. Because it's not about the same talent, we all have the same capacities.  It’s a matter of how you’re going to use it, and how you handle the failures and bad moments, how you’re going to rebound”.

Failures can be formative in any profession, and I love how Maud attests that this has been a major motivation and impetus for her to continue prospering as a professional surfer on the tour.  I wonder what else helps her to stay grounded and to not let the pressure overwhelm her?

“I just remember…the simple things and why I’m surfing, and my passion...I’m super grateful for everything surfing brings to my life, and just the simple fact of being in the ocean and connected with nature”.

Seeing Maud playfully surfing during our sessions in Mundaka, I was struck by her unique style, fusing aggressive, hacking manoeuvres with a creative, powerful feminine style.  It is brilliant to watch, and excites me when I ask her when is in store for her with her surfing now?

“I just want to keep improving my surfing…push myself a little bit harder every day. and just be the best I can be.

"This is my full motivation, to be at 100% of my capacity, … we have no limits, so I just want to go further than I can, and be proud at the end”. 

With positive role models like Maud flourishing on the womens pro- circuit, it seems there has never been a more inspiringly progressive time in women’s surfing.  With champions like Stephanie Gilmore, Carissa Moore, Tyler Wright and more holding a motivating flame, illustrating that the days of women needing to surf like the guys to be considered on their level is long extinct, that feminine creativity and expression, fused with strength and powerful executions, makes for an incredible display of surfing.

Close friends with fellow pro surfer Coco Ho, Maud expresses that “its just just good to always be with passionate people who are always pushing themselves surfing”.  With a dominant force of female chargers on the competitive circuit, the professional side is prospering.  In the every-day surf realm though, sometimes it is still common to see a more masculine-heavy lineup at most surf spots.   I ask Maud why she thinks this could be, why aren’t there more women in the water, it is, after all 2017?  “I think the problem is that women sometimes have limits because that’s true it's a physical sport, and there's a lot of men doing it, and you won't want to look shitty at the beginning doing it

The thing is ..some people are like oh you're lucky. you're a surfer, you're blond, tanned, it's super sexy…No, surfing is NOT sexy! You have water in your nose all day, dreadlocks, sand everywhere and you fall, you fall, you go in the sand… You just have to get past those things... It's like ok, maybe the boys are good at surfing, but it's not only exclusively for boys… I truly think a girl surfing is way more graceful and more beautiful to watch."

There Is nothing shameful in the fact that sometimes women may worry a little more about what we look like, seeing as we are still often judged on our outside cover.  Maud shares that her girlfriends have similar fears when she pushes them to try surfing expressing that, “everyone's gonna tease me.  I’m like bah, no one cares, we all begin from a point, nobody is looking!”.

I think that as Maud proposes, once we let go of the fear, of worrying what we look like or what people are thinking of us, then we can really embrace the task at hand.  Fear can be a paralysing obstruction to personal endeavours, and once we shake off those fears, it is incredible what can be achieved.

Maud’s passion for surf goes hand in hand with her passion for art, with much of her inspiration stemming from her travels on the road as a professional surfer.  I wonder where the main sources of inspiration for her art stem from on the road?  “I think it’s a period in life…I know my drawing is a lot inspired by what I’m feeling at every moment in my life, and it’s a way of expressing for me, for what I’m feeling.  I think I’m inspired by everything I’m living around, especially my travel, you go to countries, the Caribbean, or Australia or America, and the art is so different.  I just love to be inspired by the art I see in the street, or local artist and what they are doing and what inspired them, and just looking all around, and change your perception of things.

From holding her own art shows, displaying her art which is a mix of paintwork, sprays and drawings, I enquire as to what exciting projects she currently has on the go? “For the moment I'm doing my quiver, it's half animal half woman.  I love to draw women’s faces, it really inspires me;

"Because I love women, and I think they are really beautiful.  There’s something strong that makes me (think) ...ok I really want to that way, to be a bit feminist (haha)”.

Two thumbs up to that.  And with surfers, the marine-dwellers that we are, spending so much time in nature’s great soup-bowl, conservation is often is at the forefront of people’s minds, and is also playing a big role in Maud’s art with a forthcoming project “drawing… mermaids with recycled plastic glass just to raise awareness to people for recycling … I give money to an association to give money to recycling, getting plastic out the water, cleaning the beaches…”.

It’s good to see professional surfers like Maud playing a critical part in not just raising awareness of the importance of the conversation of our marine life, but also being an active participant.


After we wrapped up a busy few days in Mundaka, one thing that really struck me about Maud was an infectious, happy energy that was palpable in talking to her, and watching her out in the water.  Asking what stokes her out most in life, she visibly glows as her shares :

"I love the sparkle in life...and just enjoying the little, simple things. I'm just stoked by a brief...moment in the day, by watching a wave, and having a good feeling on my board”.

And with that, we're off for a hike through the verdant forest of Mundaka, smiles on our faces, and adventure in our hearts.


The new Vans Ultrarange versatile shoe is out August 1, learn more at