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 Vans.com/UltraRange




On the recently wrapped leg of Mad To Live Retreats x The Surf Experience in the epicentre of all that is surf and adventure in Europe, Portugal, we had the pleasure of welcoming the warming ray of radness that is SurfGirl journalist Carly Truss as a guest.

Straight off the bat, Carly was a total pleasure to have join the crew.  I am stoked that she really got involved with everything that Mad To Live is about, and delighted she had a great experience.  Check out what she made of the retreat in her write-up for SurfGirl magazine, the most awesome purveyors of all that is women's surfing. 


Now in the full-heat of the summer, it's never a better time to embrace a fresher face and make the most of glowing skin, and strip back on products if you are prone to using a lot.

These are some of my current favourite products that work to enhance natural beauty that shines during the summer months.  Check it out below, with an accompanying Vlog!


DECLEOR HYDRA FLORAL FLUID A go to essential, I use SPF every day and it's definitely stood my skin in good stead so far!

CHARLOTTE TILBURY SUPERMODEL BODY I love this product from Charlotte Tilbury, gives tanned skin a gorgeous sheen and smells freaking delicious too.

CHARLOTTE TILBURY GODDESS SKIN FACE MASK How I love a face mask...pretty sure I would already be looking like a well worn moccasin if I didn't use face masks regularly. This is a new favourite for me - actually works wonders.

CHANEL WATERPROOF MASCARA My go to waterproof mascara from Chanel don't budge - ideal for water-dwelling creatures like me.

CHARLOTTE TILBURY IBIZA NIGHTS LIP GLOSS On the rarer occasions I might want to dress up a bit, in the summer a shade like this from Charlotte Tilbury adds a bit of colour and shimmer for summer nights.

BAREMINERALS LIP COLOUR I love this natural shade from BareMinerals, looks awesome with a tan.

CHANEL LE VERNIS CORAL NAIL POLISH Everything from the Chanel Les Beiges collection sits well with natural-beauty / makeup phobes like me, and this coral nail colour works a dream with sun kissed skin and a smile.

DECLEOR AROMA SUN EXPERT - HIGH REPAIR AFTER SUN BALM Not in the video as this was a new addition which has blown my mind.  A 100% natural balm loaded with oils, I road-tested this on a  recent surf trip and it worked wonders on sun scorched skin at the end of the day.


The recent leg of Mad To Live Retreats hit epic Lagos, Portugal for our annual collaboration with the righteous The Surf Experience,  bringing together all-time crews of women for the ultimate surf & fitness adventure.

We were psyched to have the brilliant Carly Truss, surfer, warm-hearted soul, badass, and journalist from our favourite women's surf journal, SurfGirl Magazine, along for the ride.

We love this piece Carly detailed on why the retreats are put together the way they are.  Want to know why I put together surfing with horse-riding, boxing, yoga, trail running and mountain biking?  Read on...

With thanks to the brilliant Carly and SurfGirl Magazine.

Like what you see?  Book on to the next Mad To Live Retreats x The Surf Experience adventure this September HERE!  Only a few spaces left!


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I first came across artist Harvey Saunders whilst we were completing our surf instructor course on the familiar shores of Newquay, Cornwall, earlier this year.  As I always find with surfing, conversation is made easy, as you already find a common interest with a fellow human being in riding waves.  Discovering Harvey was an an artist, through small, smart-phone imagery, I was quickly drawn into, and entranced, by his art, and ethos’ around it.

An almost fate-like coincidence days later saw me at the new boutique hotel Amouage by Surf Maroc, admiring some large-scale geometric collages hanging through the hotel.  Created by, coincidentally, none other than Harvey.  Delving further into Harvey’s art and creativity, I loved how his incorporation of symbology, geometry and earnest stoke for surfing is visibly manifested in his art.  I was keen for him to create an artwork in the vein of Mad To Live, leaving a brief open to his interpretation.

Settle down for a piece with the phenomenally talented Harvey Saunders. Artist, surfer, creator and one of my favourite, and most interesting interview subjects to delve into to date.  

Harvey Saunders, somewhat like me, seems to thrive on his work being closely linked, and interwoven, with his love of travel and surf.  Growing up outside Brighton, in the south of England, and currently based on the South West Coast of Spain, Harvey’s work now sees him taking up artist residencies around the world, most recently having completed a stint at Amouage by Surf Maroc.  I found myself mesmerized by the huge works which so beautifully rest in the break-side Taghazout hotel.  A project that lasted over 3 months whilst Harvey created 2 large collage pieces for the new hotel,  Harvey shares that

"Surfing and creating everyday in such a location was a great experience, and I'm real grateful to the whole crew. The first piece I created for them took exactly one lunar cycle to complete, full moon to full moon. I'd work, see there was a wave, jump in, surf, jump out, and do it all over again. “

An active interest as a child in  “hanging out in trees, being mischievous in the countryside, football, ice hockey, chess, symbolism, mythology, archeology, geology" saw his passion for both art and surf ignited early on.  A former pro inline-skater, a couple of concussions saw Harvey drop the blades and turn to skateboarding and surfing.  Surfing since the age of 12, having badgered his dad for years to take him, what really stoked the surfing fire for Harvey was “my Uncle giving me a video over from Oz called Good Times, a Taylor Steele film which had just come out at the time. It had some sick sections and a rad SoCal punk rock soundtrack. That was my introduction to punk rock bands like Strung Out, Pennywise, The Vandals, Bad Religion, Blink 182, AFI, and heavily influenced my music taste from that point onwards."

Family seems to have played a rich role in his development as an artist, and I love talking to Harvey about his grandparents, “both great artists in their own rights, and I have always been inspired by their sense of style in one way or another…" 

"I didn't know my grandfather very well, he was a master printer and the founder of a very successful design company. Recently my Dad found some  8mm videos my grandfather shot in the mid 60s in Italy and the footage is golden. I have a clear memory of being in their Brighton Flat overlooking the sea on a sunny day sitting on a Charles and Ray Eames lounger chair with my grandfather spinning me round listening to Enya, haha say what you will, Enya is bliss!"

Harvey’s recent art works sees him “specialising in large scale geometric collages using found imagery.”  His large-scale works are staggering, and the intricacies of utilizing materials such as magazines, which are “simple and easy to work with whilst travelling, and easy to get a hold of” make for breathtaking works of art.  Harvey is also keen to “make some pieces out of wood. To work in a wood shop and develop works in a sculptural format would be fun..."

"Wood is great, all the concentric rings that form as it grows each year. . . Stone as well, working with both wood and stone is a very hands on intimate process, which is what I appreciate.”

On research I found out sacred geometry is something highly influential in Harvey’s work.  Admittedly not being overly familiar with what exactly sacred geometry is, I asked Harvey to explain.  "Geometry was originally the measure of the earth, practiced by the Egyptians and the Babylonians. Sacred geometry takes it to another level where there is a  philosophical and symbolical connotation to the forms, the patterns, the proportions and the relationships that one finds in the geometric realm.

“Sacred Geometry looks at the way that geometry manifests throughout all the levels and realms of creation, from the microcosmic to the the macrocosmic and everything in between and how geometry serves as a unifying body of principles or relationships that ties all of those domains together. That includes the human domain.”

The layers of his inspiration seem to mirror the physical layers of his art’s materials, which also so visibly to me tell stories about his other sources of inspirations.  So rich the tapestry of his works, they feel as though they reflect many a story and indeed, Harvey attests that his inspirations also include “ancient civilizations and cultures, religion, board riding culture, fashion, music, art.  I've been particularly inspired by Native American culture. …

“I had an interesting moment with a Native American friend, when I first met him we talked, and a second went by where it felt like a freight train went by my ear.  He felt it too, and later told me that he was told that I should look after his peace pipe that was given to him by Native Elders, for the evening. I had some strong dreams that night . . .”

I have often wondered, where an artist’s work, and the act of creating it, can take them, if anywhere.  Harvey answers:

"I would like to say a zen like state, but It's basically a form of meditation for me, building a work by making thousands of cuts of paper. It definitely feels to me like a form of therapy, cutting the bullshit and making a microcosm.”

I was incredibly excited to see what Harvey had created with his brief of MAD TO LIVE, and with such an open brief, I wondered where he drew his inspiration from:

"I got a good feeling from you Sophie, you were an inspiration to the people around you. Energetic and fun! After looking at Mad to Live and developing an understanding of what the essence of the vibe of the blog is, I was inspired to create a vibrant piece, energetic and fun, and which worked with the colour palette of your logo."   


(Thanks Harvey ;))

"I started working on the piece in England using some of the imagery that I found whilst creating my pieces for Surf Maroc. I then travelled to the south west coast of Spain and finished the piece using surf magazines spanning 1 decade that I acquired from a friend."

I am blown away by what he has created, and how it completely captures the MAD TO LIVE vibe, so beautifully and patently in an art form.   The piece comprising "the central octagon (which) has some pictures of microbes from the an Arabic Monthly from the mid-seventies, as well as circuit boards.  I think they are special parts to this piece, as I like to hint at the natural and the digital realms. "

A well-travelled surfer (Santa Cruz, West Coast of France, Eastern Oz and Morocco include some of his favourite places to surf) Harvey is now, like me, in Lagos, Portugal over summer, busy working on projects, including developing a clothing brand, which he finds “fun because it's the project that I feel draws from all my areas of influence.”  

Travel appears to be a central nucleus of Harvey, and I ask where is next for him: “I've been reading about Bhután quite a bit recently, I would love to go there. You know Bhutan is the only country whose largest export is renewable energy. It's also the only country in the world which absorbs more CO2 than it gives out.

But Mexico is at the top of my list. The Cave of Naica maybe. Peru, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hawaii, The Philippines, Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Japan, New Zealand, The Pyramids, Kailasa Temple, Mount Kailash, China. “

A future rich in creating and travel looks to be on the cards for Harvey, who is looking to

"Stay happy and healthy, live close to some good waves, surf, create, innovate, and learn, become wise and grow a wise man beard."

Amen to that!

To find out more about Harvey and his art, head to




STAY TUNED for more Expert's Chat landing on the Mad To Live Blog soon!






Every time I wrap a leg of Mad To Live Retreats, I, as I hope my guests, am left in a stoked out, energized bliss, wondering what the heck just happened.  Collaborating with long-time friends and the number one surf and lifestyle camp in Europe, The Surf Experience, and with a weeks itinerary bursting with adventure and stoke-inducing possibilities at every turn, we welcomed our righteous crews of women including including Jess, Lucy, Poppy, Carly, Nicola, Charlotte, Holly, Naztasia, Debbie and Pixie to the wondrous shores of Lagos, Portugal.

The Surf Mansions house were prepped for all the guests, with goodies from our partners including The Raw Chocolate Company, Roxy, SeaFolly Australia, Imsy Swiwmear, Plenish juices and Pip N Nut to welcome the ladies, and get them settled in and ready for the incoming adventure.

From the welcome sunset yoga on the beach, toasting the upcoming fun and radness to be had, to full surf days in warm green waves in Lagos, horse-riding in the stunning hills of Benzafrim, mountain biking along the cliffs peeping over the crystal green waters of Ponta de Piedade, gettin' sweaty and stoked with surf-specific training on the beach in the morning, saluting the days adventure with restorative yoga in the dreamy old-town Theatre, and busting on the pads with a 1-1 boxing PT session, the crews threw themselves at everything on offer.

With in-depth surf coaching and a video analysis session, it was awesome to see the women progress and charge over the week, taking in some of the Algarve's most beautiful breaks along the way, and benefiting from multiple swells hitting the south coast.

How special it is for me to see these women, from all across the world and all walks of life, bond and stoke-out during the experience.  How incredible the energy is, of everyone lifting each other up, and the firm friendships made every week, how it seems to become more powerful and real each time these adventures happen.

Check out the full video edit of the weeks below, and HOLD UP! We have announced a THIRD date in September added due to popular demand! BOOK HERE - limited spacing available!

And stay tuned for 2018 dates........

Hannah Edy Photography



Travel Piece For Cooler Magazine on Morocco, and Why The Waves Are Always The Best Place To Make Friends

I love fussing my love of travel and writing, and with my recent trip to Amouage in Morocco, I penned a piece for the bible of all that is women's surf and adventure, Cooler. In this piece I explore the emergence of new luxurious surf destinations, and why waves will always be the best place to meet new friends.  Check the piece below!

With thanks to Amouage at Surf Maroc







How rich a lover I am of travel it is well-versed on these blogs pages.  I have loved being a child of Europe, coming from mixed parentage, and spending my young years in Greece, learning French with my Belgian mother, schooling in England, living in France, loving Spain, snowboarding Austria, arms out-stretched in Italy.  One country though, seems to have had me in it's loving and warm grasp since I was first taken there, not even yet a citizen of this planet, in my mother's pregnant belly.

Travel company and all-round purveyors of brilliant travel advice, tips, booking ease and awesomeness KAYAK are sharing a campaign that I love, and is all about their love of Europe, and sharing a personal love story with it or an individual country.

Portugal, where I have lived, loved, worked, and have spent and continue to spend so much of my time, has always been a constant in my life.  Somehow, every time I am here, I fall more and more in love with this wildly beautiful country.  I have penned and created my own Love Letter to Portugal as part of this campaign... This is truly a special one for me, something I loved to write, I loved to create.  It is from the heart, as Portugal is a part of me, body, soul, mind and more.  

You can create your own Love Letter using #loveeurope and #KAYAKloveeurope to a country in Europe that you love.  Get inspired and check out mine below!  This is from the heart!

Find out more and visit KAYAK at www.Kayak.co.uk

A love letter to Portugal

Oh Portugal.  Since I took my own first steps on this planet, upon your very own rich and awesome soil, you had me at the get go.

I’ve lived and loved you every year I have spent on this earth, and every time we’re together, I fall in love with you a little more.

Where can I start, is it the rich, golden glow about your varied, ancient lands, which have traces of so many wild and different cultures imprinted across it, doused in your foods, in the intoxicating, bewitching smiles of your peoples, in the shape of your lands, the ruins, the curves of your cobbles, the ancient rock, and whispers of the spirits and energies who were here in an ancient time.

Is it the crispness of your salty air, the endless hours of play and love I have had in your roaring and wild waters, the first touch of sand on my babe toes, the first swim, the first time I lay my belly on a board, and felt the defiant surge of your power, the first time I stepped both feet on a surfboard, the beginning of an enduring and wild love affair that to you, Portugal, I am eternally grateful.

It could be the smiles from your local elder statesmen, pitched up at their spots every morning, the knowing smiles of the elderly fisherman as I leave when the sun is peeping over the horizons for an early run into the hills, pit- stopping for one of your delectable coffees in the unassuming and perfect stand-up coffee shops.  Or perhaps it’s the sizzling sardines, the freshly grilled treasures from the ocean, doused in lemon, garlic, wine and love.  The endless trays of prawns and clams, of thick, hearty stews, of crusty, moorish breads, of my memories of my dad bringing still-warm croissants from your local bakeries to our home every morning. Of the toasts made of your local wines, to the many events, the many loves, and many moments imprinted forever in my heart.

Perhaps it’s the wild dancing, the abandoned screams to the moonlit skies with charmed feet moving nonstop to the beats of your ancient music’s and land.  Of the fervent frenzy of never wanting to stop dancing, of the laughs and exhaustion, dancing barefoot home with the sun rising in the sky, the moon sleeping to the west, searching for that warm croissant to put me to sleep.

Is it those seminal friendships, those hugs, the first taste of your beer, the toasts, the love, the celebrations of high school, of university, of our first jobs, of our second, of our first loves, the loves for life, of weddings, of children, is it those moments you have been instrumental in, been the heartbeat of, to which I am eternally grateful? 

It could be the simplicity of those walks with my mother on your golden sands.  Once a child, taking such pleasure in searching for your oceans treasures, collecting shells, hand in hand with Her. Those moments which have never changed, as I am still  child of your lands, yet the vision now of my own mother.

Portugal, you enrapture me and have loved me as I have loved you honestly, passionately, relentlessly since you first welcomed me to your intoxicating world…how I can’t wait to see how this Great Love continues…thank you for all of your gifts… I love you Portugal. 


I am so excited to introduce a new segment to the Mad To Live Mix.  In feel-good beauty I will be talking about some of my favourite products which help me feel my best and maintain a happy inner and outer glow.

As you can probably tell from my perpetual beach/jungle Mowgli looking condition (even in London, ha!) I don't like to use too much makeup.  I more love products that help me feel my best and that help my skin against damage including pollution in the city, or the sun and saltwater whilst I am away running my retreats.

Image: Gavin Withey  

Image: Gavin Withey


I believe living a healthy life doing as much of what you can to make you smile and feel awesome is step number one, and products that help to enhance your natural beauty. 

First up in the mix is a video on inner and outer glow!  Check it out below, and find the full list of products.


CHANEL BLUE SERUM Inspired by and using ingredients from global blue zones, regions of the world where people live better and longer (including Costa Rica, my favourite).

DECEOR NEROLI A perennial favourite, one of my non-negotiable musts.100% natural with essential and botanical oils, feel-goodness guaranteed.

CHARLOTTE TILBURY HEALTHY GLOW Basically summer in a tube, a glow-giver if I am feeling a little lacklustre!

BAREMINERALS STROKE OF LIGHT Under-eye illumination that works a treat if I have been working late, too many early morning starts.

BAREMINERALS BRILLIANT FUTURE AGE DEFENSE & RENEW CREAM With my peepers constantly out in the sun on my surf retreats, I just want a product that combats damage and refreshes.  Enter BareMinerals, to combat environmental stressors.

MOROCCAN OIL LIGHT TREATMENT Infused with antioxidant rich argan oil & vitamins.  The Hair Dream.

DR SEBAGH LUMINOUS GLOW CREAM Awesome at erasing any signs of fatigue, serious glow-giving.  On this note, the INCREDIBLE facialist Tine Hargelquist who works closely with Dr Sebagh is based in London and runs THE most amazing signature facials from her beautiful zen-out apartment.  She truly believes about what is happening with your personal happiness and overall health manifests on your skin, and carries out her signature facial massages whilst imparting pearls of wisdom to leave you feeling quite simply on top of the world.  

GARNIER SKINACTIVE MOISTURE BOMB TISSUE MASK My FAVOURITE all-time face mask.  Hydrating as heck, oozing with glow-giving rehydrating serum, and non-wallet damaging.

VITA COCO COCONUT OIL A head-to-toe glow giver.  Not just for the kitchen.

NEAT NUTRITION WHEY PROTEIN Packed full of essential amino acids. Nutrient rich to improve overall wellbeing, a must post-training for me.

Thanks and stay tuned for the next video on multi-purpose/products that are awesome for travel!