I was stoked to ask to be a part of a movement by The North Face spearheaded by their phenomenal athletes including climbing prodigy the incredible Ashima Shiraishi and ultra runner Fernanada Maciel (who recently ran up and down Kilimanjaro in just over 10 hours...) amongst other ground-breaking women.  The campaign isn't just celebrating female explorers, but so to speak putting it's money where it's mouth is, supporting equal marketing spend between the sexes at the brand, product development for women, closing the gender pay gap amongst their athletes, and grants and charity partnerships to foster female exploration.

Spurred on by attending a panel discussion chaired by the extraordinary Bonita Norris (at the time the youngest British woman to ascend Everest), DJ Carly Wilford, Fernanda Maciel, and women I am proud to know, the formidable Editor of Cosmopolitan Farrah Storr, and Editor of Cooler Magazine, Lou Boyd, got me thinking about my own mission, and what my work has meant to me over the years.  

My wildest dream had been and continues to be aiding more women getting into nature, surfing, running, getting out on bikes, horses, out on the climbing wall, playing in our Great Outdoors.  

"The foundation of Mad To Live Retreats and of indeed the Mad To Live platform itself to tell stories in support of that mission has been my greatest motivation in both my career and personal life.   I am passionate about more women experiencing the physical and mental benefits of a life rooted in sport, exploration, play and adventure, and how in a female-based retreat, fostering female friendships in this environment can lead to incredibly meaningful relationships and experiences in these outdoor settings."

The retreats are my way to help break down any barriers, encumbrances or fears women may have in any of these sports we play in, particularly if they are classically more male-dominated environments, like surfing.  When I see our hoard out running the trails, tearing down beaches on horseback, opening their hearts to sun salute the sky, paddling into the lineup, a crew of women who are feeling more confident just from either having positive constructive coaching, by being with a troop of other women who have their backs, every second of hard work, of doors that have been shut, of doors that have been opened, is worth it.

I am constantly invigorated by my work, by working on stories that are woven into this mission, of creating more retreats to give more women access to an experience where they can try these sports, be themselves, forge new passions, travel and be enriched by a world taking in more movement, more culture, more life.  I'll continue to push for more, for more women to partake, to run a little wilder, and feel stronger, and to never stop playing. 

Check out my shots which are from the awesome book She Moves Mountains by The North Face I am delighted to be included in.  




As the African sun sets on a wildly epic adventure out in Morocco for Mad To Live Retreats, we dust off the golden sand and wipe the zinc off our noses, minds blown after sharing an incredible week with a group of stunning souls from around the world.  Alexandra, Lissette, Ashley, Gabrielle, Kerry, Jess (her FOURTH retreat with us.  We love ya Jess!!) from the US, Elissa, Sabina, Nichola, Elly and Beth (welcome back ladies) from the UK, Lily and Yasmin from Portugal and Sara from Spain.   Check our highlights below and the full video wrap!

Our Mad To Live Retreats babe cave for the week, a private villa at beautiful Banana Beach was the ultimate magical Moroccan surfer girl HQ, nightly dips outside with the setting sun a daily highlight (hands up who's missing 630pm dips dudes?!).  A haul of gifts from our radical brand partners including Billabong, Decleor, The Raw Chocolate Company, Pip & Nut, Kinn LIving, Imsy Swimwear and Mad To Live hats and tees greeted the guests on arrival, an ultimate swag package.

With surfing and getting the girls ripping a key focus of the week, our instructors for the week Bashine and Charlotte went to all lengths to coach the ladies during the week.  The progress was pretty astonishing, and returning retreaters including Lisette Sieholtz and Sara Guel from New York City and Barcelona showing incredible progression, and new surfers Kerry, Ashley and Nichola blowing our minds.

Adventure is around every corner of the raw and beautiful shores of Taghazout, and with camel rides, horse-back riding on Arabian stallions, visits to the all-female run Argan Oil Collective, Paradise Valley to hike, trek and rock jump for the brave, surf-fitness focussed training, an adventurous itinerary complimented by the zen of yoga sessions at the rooftop shalla and a meditation to welcome the new moon led by in-house yogi & bastion of soulful energy Lucy Sweeney, a visit to the local hammam and trips to the souks rounded out an all-time week.

Feasting at the Villa Mandala, wholesome and locally sourced Moroccan feasts fed hungry bellies and souls at the end of a full day adventuring and exploring, a group toast to all the epicness of each day.   Yeah, we LOVE to eat at Mad To Live Retreats!!

A journey to the valhalla of long boarding that is Insouame, punctuated with camels dotting the road, goats chomping argan from trees and staggering views brought the week to an almighty crescendo.  Heading off into the soft-sand desert for a hike and sand-boarding an adventure we won't ever forget, a nirvana of wild beauty. 

The endless possibilities and capacity for adventure and growth when surrounded by a supportive troop of women, when facing fears, when allowing happiness and an endless stoke for living are part of what we champion and part of our DNA at Mad To Live.  Morocco and all these brilliant women were a crucial reminder to us too how powerful and transformative that is, as we tip our hats to the African sun, Hakuna Matata forever engrained.




Book your own Mad To Live Retreats adventure Here and stay tuned for 2019's Morocco dates landing soon!








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My next blog for Billabong Women's hot off the heels of my debut piece on top road trips to do with your girlfriends the summer is now live now on the Billabong website.  I chatted to the Billabong crew about how I started my business and went from being office based to being toes-in-the-sand beach based most of the time!  Check out the full piece below.


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Agadir, Taghazout and its surrounding areas is a veritable treasure trove of adventure and wellness activities.  The azure-hued oceans and gold-dust deserts rich in culture and with super-friendly locals makes it’s a no-brainer as a Mad To Live Retreats base.  We’ve been exploring the epic terrain out here the last year and check out our guide to the top wellness and adventure activities below!




Taghazout, with its breaktaking vistas boasts an endless shorelines of sun-kissed panoramas.  The best way to take it all in and explore is by horseback or for a more local option, camel. With an array of riding schools catering to all levels, get wild and take in the wild terrains on a magnificent horse or doe-eyed camel.



There’s a reason Taghazout is a globally-renowned surf mecca.  With infamous spots welcoming pros including the likes of Kelly Slater of the years, the land of the rights, with killer beaks including Anchors, Devils Rock and more is a must-stop for wave-hungry travellers.  Accommodation is cheap, and operators like Surf Maroc offer an abundance of options that include bed and breakfast and surf touring.



Once you’re done with the waves, heading out into the wildly raw and beautiful sand dunes is a must-do experience.  The scenery is unparalleled and one for the memory bank, and you can surf down the soft dunes for a thrilling experience.



Namaste’in loving yogis are spoilt for choice with a number of choice-yoga options.  Take in all the incredible beauty of the coastline with roof-top yoga classes at spots including boutique hotel Amouage.




Surf-weary bodies and spa-lovers must check out a traditional Moroccan spa for a Hamman experience.  Relax in the sauna spa before having a scrub down with face and body wash, leaving gleaming and fresh.



The other-worldly Paradise Valley, nestled in the hills less than an hour from Taghazout is serious-bucket list territory.  The Palm-laden valley welcomes you as you approach, and a short hike later, exploring the running rivers, streams, tucked away tea spots and raw nature you’ll find yourself at natural pools and waterfalls (in the right season).  The brave will hurl themselves from the natural cliff jumps into the clear-water pools, a scream-inducing jump for most.


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Sumatran born lady-slider Flora Christin has been causing ripples around the popular breaks of Canggu, Bali, her infectious energy and love of dancing on her longboard quashing what has been typically expected.  Spreading stoke and good vibes one cross step at a time, I interviewed Flora for Cooler Magazine beachside of her local wave in Bali, hot off the back of a recent podium place on the Asian Women’s Surf Championships.

Check out my interview with the righteous Flora Christin, live now on Cooler Magazine, and full piece below. 

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Summer is finally beginning to cast it's glow across what has been an unfathomably long and cold winter.  Buoyed up by sunny vibes and a road trip to California, I've penned a piece for my fav women's all-time rock n' roll surf brand, Billabong Womens, hot off the back of the launch of their New Wave collection inspired by Billabong's long-time heritage in surf and the wild and rad bonds of a badass crew of friends.  

If you've seen me on the beach and in the waves you know I have a penchant for all the 80s high cut bathers, and I love this heritage blast collection and all the radical girl power vibes around it, the campaign featuring powerhouse surfer Laura Enever, Josie Prendergast, Alissia Quizon and golden girl Flick Palameeter.

Check out my guide to awesome summer trips to do with your girlfriends over the summer!


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Book now on Mad To Live Retreats

All photos by Alan Krespan




The first budding blossoms of spring bring with it a taste of a summer to come, and with a hot spell stretching it’s giving touch across Europe to the UK, we were blessed with the hottest April on record for a Mad To Live hosted Seafolly Australia Retreat in Devon.  Devon has long been one of my favourite places in the world to explore and adventure in, it’s clean waters, rambling expanses of lush green lands and vast unparalleled beauty.     

Our retreat home for the weekend in the near-mystically beautiful Salcombe, our own Seafolly babe palace, perched on the beach overlooking the crystal green waters of the West Coast.  It wasn't hard to imagine that Tennyson was so inspired by this very place that he penned poems such was the inspiration the otherwordly scenery inspired him with.


With Seafolly beach vibes in abundance and a brilliant crew of women for the weekend, we tucked into a hearty spread by the Potency Team, a vegetarian menu over the weekend fueling us for our endless hours of fun.

Dawn’s golden fingers creeping through our curtains on Saturday, my surf-fitness high intensity class kicked off our first day, introducing the ladies to pop-ups and getting sweaty whilst tesing out the new season Seafolly fitness gear.  

I love the detail of the products, and radical bright coloured designs.

Chowing down some of Potency's award-winning energy balls, we headed beach-way for our stand up paddle boarding adventure.  


All aboard the SeaFolly Express!


Exploring the beautiful bays and breathtaking waters of the bay with our girl gang was an all-time adventure, the endless smiles, team-ditch into the fresh waters and post-SUP beach play with Gracie the puppy leaving us sun-kissed and stoked.


A quick stop of at the local pub The Winking Prawn for fresh grilled prawns slathered in garlic butter and we headed back to our girl-gang abode, ready for a restorative, candle lit stretch.


Toasting the day with cocktails courtesy of Potency and a generous feast, a dance-off as we checked out next season collection of Seafolly (it’s off the chart awesome), and we cosied up for a viewing of the all-time classic chicks surfer movie.  Yup you guessed it, Blue Crush.  

Waking up to another blue-bird morning and a generous serving of poached eggs with crisped coconut flakes over rye with avo, we took the workout outdoors, for an energising conditioning session underneath the sunny skies.

An incredible weekend with the Seafolly girl gang.

To find out more and book on to Mad To Live Retreats, cruise here

Enquire about corporate and brand Mad To Live Retreats at












Having spent plenty of time living in the Big Smoke, much to the bemusement of friends and acquaintances who often can't imagine me not within 10 feet of water, I became a dab hand over the years at sussing out the best adventures within the confines of the city.  Sometimes we can't always head to a mountain or the coast, it isn't realistic every single week, so for those of you starved for adventure, check out my guide below of my favourite adventures to have, all in or within an hour of London!



A short train from London (it took me less than 45 minutes) and I found myself at one of the UK's most seminal institutes of boardsports: Wet N Dry Boardsports in Essex.  With 7 locations including their own private lake where they host stand up paddle board yoga classes, and an arsenal of a store packed with knowledge and equipment across SUP, surf, skate and snowboard, Wet N Dry have been a go-to name in the UK for adventure and action sport for the last 20 years.  A 2 hour lesson on clear waters at Hullbridge on the River Crouch (the tide flushes the water twice in a day) under sunny skies and you could feel like you aren't in what you know to be in the UK, and certainly not within an hour of London.  Running days which include SUP tours and bonfires, and toasting the session with a beer on the beach, a true escape from London.


People find it hard to believe that in East London's Docklands you'll find a busy cable wakeboard park, and in a beautiful setting at that at Royal Victoria Dock.  With instructors onsite if you're new to wakeboarding ready to teach you the ropes, or if you already ride, pitch up and make the most of the kickers and obstacles on offer, and the fully stocked bar.


Even harder to believe for some is the indoor ski and snowboard facility Chelski tucked just off the Kings Road in West London.  A magic moving carpet (not snow) moves under your feet giving you the sensation of carving and turning on the piste.  Book in lessons with one of their brilliant instructors and get some shred in right in the city.


VC London are an all-female collective encouraging more women to get out on the roads and on two wheels.  Bringing together a hugely accessible array of workshops, activities, lessons and meet ups in London for riding bandit babes and those who've always wanted to try, annual camps and beginner moto riding and dirt bike days further afield with pro Leah Tokelove.


If you read my interview with climbing coach Robin O'Leary, you'll have found that climbing is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK, with indoor facilities cropping up across the country.  London is home to a number of brilliant facilities including The Arch Climbing Wall  in Bermondsey, Mile End Climbing Wall, the impressive Castle Climbing Centre next to Clissold Park and The Climbing Hangar in Parsons Green.  Book yourself a coach (like world class Robin) and find out why climbing is steadily becoming one of Britain's favourite sports.


The already-now-iconic institution that is the House of Vans under the kaleidoscopic spray painted arches of Waterloo is the place if you're hankering after a skate or always wanted to learn. Book into one of their Girls Skate Nights and roll with a crew of other chicks, getting coaching and pointers. Onsite lockers and cafe and bar, exhibition evenings, screenings and more make House of Vans a one-stop for counter-culture in London. 


A short walk through the otherworldly and beautiful Hampstead Heath Park and you'll discover the swimming ponds, a place many Londoner's are unaware of it's existence.  Open every day of the year, hardy souls cite the virtues of bracing the icy waters through winter and spring.  On a warm summer's day the celestial beauty of the setting and crisp waters make this one of London's best adventures.







If you enjoyed the last WHY I Interview with climbing double World Champion Shauna Coxsey MBE and have been inspired to hit up one of the many indoor and outdoor climbing facilities available in the UK (it is now one of the fastest growing sports in Britain), keep reading.  

Professional rock climbing coach and GB ParaClimbing coach Robin O’Leary is a go-to name in performance coaching, and if you cast your eyes to Robin's Instagram and you'll find that he coaches a number of the UK's brightest talents.  I joined Robin for a coaching session where he unravelled a few bad habits and got me so excited to climb more I am setting out for a full summer of it in Portugal.

I sat down Robin for an Expert's Chat, with top pointers and more from the elite coach himself.

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Robin with climbing World Champion Shauna Coxsey


"My dad was a very keen traditional climber back in the  '70s and early '80s, but stopped climbing when my brother and I were born in the early '80s. I have memories as a child being halfway up a rock face with my brother on a small ledge, be it in north Wales or on the south coast (Swanage), but it wasn’t until after university that I really decided that I liked it. So I have been climbing for basically 11 years now. "

"Climbing is a great and hugely fun alternative to the gym. It can take you around the world and provide some of the best memories and friendships you can ever ask for.  I have the dream job, I really do.  I work with such enthusiastic clients on a daily basis, go around the world coaching/climbing and never feel like I work a day."

"Follow your passion and dedicate yourself to it, everything else will follow."

"There is so much to this sport I love! The challenge and physical pursuit are initial attractions.  With climbing, what you put into it, you get out. Hard work = success.  But I also love the fact that it is never the same.

"The movements that you make can be indefinite – the hold you can be going for can be any shape or size, at any orientation and at any angle. " 

The places it takes you; whether you are into competition climbing on artificial walls and you compete around the world, or you love rock climbing. There are world-class destinations almost all over the world – from fairly popular locations to far-out and remote crags.  Finally, the people you meet.  Climbing attracts people from all walks of life and I think that is a wonderful thing. You could be climbing with a Doctor and a Chippy."



The best way to get involved is to see where your nearest walls are and to give them a bell. Get booked on to a taster session for either rope climbing (sport climbing) or bouldering (over soft crash pads) and give it a go. It really is that simple and it is so much fun.

My top tips for those climbers who are just beginning is to have fun! Go to the wall and just climb! 

  • Watch those that are clearly pretty handy and see if you can pick up any tips, but ultimately it is “moves in the bank” that get you better.
  • Climb as much as possible and you will build up the necessary (sport specific) strength and fitness needed. 

"People always assume it is all about upper-body strength, but really, it is all about footwork and body positioning. Your core is so important and you can often climb without having to pull at all.   It sounds unbelievable, but you can dance and pivot your way up the wall just using momentum, hips and legs."



"The fundamentals about climbing all surround body positioning. You get big bulky gum bods going to the wall and getting blown off by their dainty girlfriends, it’s excellent."

Yes, being able to pull can help, but ultimately it is understanding how to move around these holds as efficiently as possible that makes it far easier.

  • You have to keep your body weight as close to the wall to make sure as much weight goes through your legs and feet as possible – alleviating the weight going through our arms. Our arms are so weak in comparison to our legs and core.
  • Feet determine everything – a poorly placed foot has huge repercussions and will probably end up with failure.  
  • Pay attention to slow and precise movement and try to drive up the wall with your leg and hips.
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The biggest mistake people make is thinking that their arms and hands have to be secure. Focusing on these alone and pulling their body up the wall, letting their feet slide around and slip off holds is very common. You get tired so quickly and end up falling off pretty rapidly too. Everyone does this to begin with and it teaches you quickly to focus on form.


  • It’s hugely physical. You can work every single muscle in your body and a 2-hour session can leave you absolutely shattered.
  • Most climbers are in great shapes and it is testament to how physical it can be. 

"Another aspect which is often overlooked is the mental workout. You hit the wall and any of life’s troubles are left at the door. You are consumed by the activity – you have to focus so much that you can’t afford to let your mind wonder."

  • You have to remain in control, even when you sometimes face big (but mainly safe) falls – I love this aspect too. It starts off being scary, but you learn to embrace it and it is one of the aspects that make it such a unique sport.
  • Arguably the best element of our sport is how diverse it is. You can be climbing an off-vertical wall (slab) with tiny feet and no hands or flying around on a 60 degree overhang. You can be hanging from your feet and upside down or running and jumping across features of the wall. It is sociable, fun and the climbing community is so supportive. No matter what grade you climb, we all face the same challenges.


  • Historically most climbers have just climbed, but it can leave you fairly injured due to imbalances. We have to pull a lot in our sport, so doing our antagonist exercises (opposites) is very important. A lot of climbers are now focusing on cross-training to ultimately make them athletes rather than just climbers.
  • Variation to training is key for enthusiasm and many of the exercises can be training weaknesses without us really knowing. It could simply be performing plyometric jumps or learning to handstand, or more serious like performing deadlifts.
  • Flexibility is also hugely important and an aspect I really neglected for a long time myself. Many of the best climbers are able to climb some really hard routes/problems by essentially thinking outside of the box and using their flexibility to help them. Again, this can be done by merely stretching, or a lot of climbers also do yoga to make it more interesting too. I think it is important to make sure we stay as injury free as possible.

"Making our bodies as even as possible is very important and working our weaknesses usually helps make this happen."

  • I always recommend speaking to a professional of their domain when it comes to cross-training and refer my clients to various strength and conditioning coaches, dieticians, physios etc to make sure they get the most out of the training I offer them.


"Essentially I wanted to offer something no-one else in our industry offered, and that was the chance to be coached to the highest standard by resident coaches, but also climb with, be coached and hang out with the best climber in the world!"

  • We offer bespoke climbing coaching holidays in some of the best climbing destinations around the world.
  • You get incredible, top-level coaching all day, with video analysis and a day’s feedback every evening with a drink in hand looking over a stunning sunset, whilst hanging out and being inspired by some of the best climbers who walk this planet.
  • The feedback we’ve had is incredible and the fuel we need to run more. It really is a dream job!
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Book Robin for your own coaching session:




Founder of the Youth Climbing Symposium - inspiring the next generation -

Founder of RocUp Holidays - be coached by your heroes -


And Check out my round-up of my favourite adventure activities in London including my favourite climbing walls




We are stoked to feature in the latest issue of SurfGirl Magazine's Travel Special roundup of top summer destinations for Mad To Live Retreats x The Surf Experience in Portugal.  Pick up a copy & check it out, SurfGirl rules #printisntdead, or else keep reading to scope the full piece, with an interview from yours truly.

The Portugal weeks are nearly sold out, snag your spot whilst you can to the ULTIMATE Women's Surf, Fitness & Adventure Retreat now on one of our 6 dates over summer, book here.

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California's long been on the top of my list of adventure and surf trips I’ve been hankering after.  An avid consumer of most west-coast ocean and thrill-seeking literature, from Kerouac and Beach Boys beat days, to Steinback and Point Break fantasies, Into The Wild fuelled Gidget dancing mirages. My mind had long been littered with images of tip-toeing down the line of perfect right hand breaks, peaking Pacific shorelines of perpetual swell, the great wide yonder of open-spaces and palm & cacti-crested wild lands. 

Check out my handy one-stop California guide for my favourite spots to hit up, best activities, places to stuff your face, where to stay and how to travel! Check it!



The Pasea Hotel

On arrival late at night in Huntington Beach, creeping out onto our balcony at the Pasea we pretty much had our minds blown from the offset, our immediate view being of the incredibly iconic Huntington Beach, the sound of waves piquing our excitement at what was to come.  For a one-stop hotel with ocean-facing rooms, gym, spa, a stones throw from the surf, beach cruiser bikes out front ready for you to take and explore (the best way to check out the town), Pasea is the spot.



So-Cal style food with generous servings.  Try the Huevos Rancheros and Green Thumb Bowl stuffed with Avocado, Almond Butter, fruits and Honeycomb.

Sessions Sandwiches

If you’ve been busy making the most of the swell or skating the park, chances are you’ll need refuelling.  Sessions Sandwiches is the one for generous served portions a stones throw from the surf and park.

Blue Gold

Try one of the local speciality “Steam Kettles”, pots of incredibly delicious shellfish you’ll be dipping hunks of hearty crab-topped sourdough into.  One of my best meals of the trip.

Toes On The Nose

What’s a surf town without your local friendly surf shop? I headed out for a surf with the Toes on The Nose crew who offer easy rentals, have lockers and changing rooms on site, and knowledgable instructors and guides.

DownTown Huntington Beach

Picking up a cruiser and exploring Downtown Huntington Beach, which is packed with super-cool old-school architecture, vintage stores rife with hot-finds, coffee shops and bars.

International Surfing Musuem

The International Surfing Museum is pretty much like no other, packed with surf and skate original artefacts and a real insight into the rich history of California surf and skate culture.

Vans Huntington Beach Skatepark

40,000 feet of skatepark, the ultimate utopia packed with different obstacles and terrains, changing rooms, lockers and snack bars. 


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Hike the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation

Make this hike as challenging as you want - head up to the top in 3 or so hours or just cruise up for half an hour.  The views across Palm Springs are mind blowing no matter the height. 

Avalon Hotel

The Avalon Hotel is a dreamy, must-stay stop in Palm Springs.  The heady, floral-scented grounds are the ultimate in R N R.  Spacious, chic bungalos, excellent eateries and an on-site spa mean you barely need to leave the grounds.


Estrella Spa

Surf-weary muscles can check into Estrella and make the most of the full range of massages, scrubs and holistic health treatments to get your zen on.

Chi Chi

The health-conscious will love the offerings of CHiChi, and I pretty much had one of the best salmon gravalax beigals of my life here (a cute touch, our waiter replaced my beigal one morning, insisting, as the baker had just delivered a fresher batch which he wanted me to have).


Yoga at the Saguaro Hotel

The kitschy-cool brightly-coloured Saguaro has pool-side yoga classes non-staying guests can attend, down-dogging under the nearly permanently azure-blue Palm Spring skies, and follow up with breakfast at the brilliant Rocco’s Electric.


Cycling The Coachella Valley

Get Into The Wild (Chris McCancles famously explored here) and explore the wildly-beautiful desert valleys on bike.


Two Bunch Palms

The breathtaking grounds of Two Bunch Palms transport you to otherworldly realms of zen. Sheltered by ancient palms and giant tamarisk trees, explore the alternative-wellness treatments on offer like Mud Therapy baths, where you are immersed in mineral-rich clay and peat moss.  



Surboard lessons and rentals from Surf Diva

Any trip to La Jolla should include a trip to the righteous Surf Diva.  Founded by renegade sisters Izzy and Coco Thiyani, Surf Diva was the world's first all-girl surf school. No matter if you’re lacking the Y chromosome, Surf Diva provide board rentals and lessons, and have a killer selection in their store.


Cheese Sandwich Shop

Work up an appetite surfing the incredible breaks of La Jolla and duck into the Cheese Shop for a huge array of sandwiches, vegan options available. 

La Jolla Kayak

La Jolla’s marine life is unparaplled partly due to the purity of the waters.  Head out on the kayaks and dive to the underwater world of the kelp forests, which apparently the scientific laboratory on the pier is finding that kelp is a highly energy rich renwable source.   Spot local friendly sharks, seals and dophins like we did and have your noggin' blown.

Hotel La Jolla

For proximity to all the activities on offer and the beach  Hotel La Jolla, with its 11th floor rooftop restaurant and bar, beach cruisers on-site and plush rooms is ideal.

Dukes for brunch

Find out about the iconic Hawaiian waterman Duke Kahanamoku, the first man to bring surfing to Australia and California at brunch spot Dukes.  Overlooking the crystal waters of La Jolla with an outdoor terrace, spot spouting whales if you're lucky.




Surfing, pick up londboards from Malibu Surf Shack right in front of the iconic Malibu break, a quick walk across the road.


Malibu State Park has a huge range of climbing options including sport climbing, bouldering and top toe routes.  Escape the bustle of LA and find the dreamy solitude of Malibu


Kreation Kafe Abbot Cinney

Get your green-fix at Kreation Kafe, where even the tap water has drops of green, mineral-rich solutions mixed in front of you.  Pressed Juices, a smorgasbord of egg and veg dishes and killer coffees make this a must-stop for healthy foodies.   

Surfboard rentals from Jays Venice Beach

Surf the iconic Venice Beach and pick up a rental from Jays, a friendly on-beach store which also rents bikes and cruiser.

Deus Café 

Need to hot-desk and be fuelled with a killer cup of coffee at the same time?  Pitch up at Deus, which has strong wi-fi, a good snack selection and great coffee.


By far the best way to road trip and explore California is with your own set of wheels.  We picked up an adventure-ready SUV from Hertz less than 10 minutes from LAX.  Gas is cheap in California and we only had to refill twice in 2 weeks.


Get Out There Guys

Stay Wild ✌️


Stay tuned for more travel stories, landing soon on the Mad To Live Blog.


Greater Palm Springs

Huntington Beach

San Diego







‘The Beast From The East’ has done it’s best to thwart our travels, but a group of fellow sport and fitness journalists and bloggers have triumphed, huddling together in the freshly constructed Plymouth Climbing Hangar in the Western tips of the UK.  We’ve battled the ‘Beast’ to reach the all-new climbing facility for an exclusive Redbull training session with climbing sensation, World Champion Shauna Coxsey and training partner and fellow climber Leah Crane. 


Hailing from the North of England, 25-year-old climber Shauna Coxsey MBE is the reigning IFSC Climbing World Cup Bouldering Champion (two years on the trot), something the British climber admits still hasn’t “quite sunk in”, but she’d “always dreamed as a kid of winning the World Cup and being World Number One and getting my name out there”.  Getting her name out there she has indeed achieved, and with the next summer Olympics on the horizon in Japan, climbing is set to make its much-anticipated debut alongside surfing and skateboarding as a new sport added to the Olympic roster. With two consecutive World Titles under her belt, Shauna “knew what I wanted was to be World Number One, and not just win the odd World Cup here and there, but to really assert myself at the top. So to do that and then repeat that again twice was just insane…I feel really privileged to have the opportunity to compete on the world stage.”


Climbing has been a constant in the tenacious athlete’s life, grappling with her first boulders at the tender age of 4 having been wowed by climbing on the TV and falling “in love with it instantly… (I) decided that’s what I wanted to do”. Honing her internationally lauded skills at kid’s clubs in the UK and by asking her dad if she could “learn some belay”, Shauna was competing by the age of 7.  The first phase of her climbing career was based predominantly indoors, but gradually progressing to outdoor.  For now, the World Champion’s focus is on “competition climbing…so indoor is my focus”.


For those of us who have given climbing a go, and with a group of us at this training session led by Shauna and Leah readily attesting, it is as much a physical sport as psychological.  The physical prowess and strength of Shauna and Leah is astounding.  For every mind-boggling route they chart on the wall, requiring super-women levels of strength and skill from their finger-tips to their toes, yet somehow executed with the dainty quietness and grace of a ballerina, there is the mental focus, decision making and fear-fighting at play too.  Shauna agrees, suggesting that climbing is as much “a psychological sport as much as a physical…the psychological element is different from many other sports…the pressures, the nerves...”.   With Shauna explaining how her training programme sees her training 6 or 7 days a week, with 2 or 3 climbing sessions a day she continues that

“Experience is one of the things you can’t value enough, … the more you get out there and do the things you want to be better at, the better you’re going to be. So if you do get nervous and you don’t want to, putting yourself in those environments and learning new skills is a good way to try and improve”.

Watching Leah and Shauna together it’s clear how much joy that take from training and climbing, and together they admit that they try and make every training session they have as fun as possible, often to the bemusement of other climbers who watch their methods which include “yogabatics” (acro yoga), ball games for focus and agility, and generally trying to have a blast (the girls admit many spectators often ask for tips afterwards, seeing how much fun the girls have.)  An incredibly positive disposition and approach to her sport is palpable in Shauna, and infectious – many of us, under her guidance and encouragement are attempting holds we haven’t before and with stoked-out success.

Sitting out the next World Cup whilst recovering from an injury, Shauna is also busy in preparation for the upcoming Olympics, which will include 3 disciplines – sport, bouldering and speed climbing, a “tri-discipline medal, so I’ll have to compete in all 3, which was a little bit daunting initially, but I’ve started training now and I’m very confident that I can make sure I’m in the best shape for the Olympics.”  With bouldering Shauna’s preferred discipline, it seems the other 2 are not far off Shauna’s mark, having made finals in a lead climbing World Cup last year.  Seeing the structure of a tri-medal as a positive in that “if I can train and become a stronger, fitter, better athlete, that’s my main goal and always my main focus and that’s what motivates me.”

When surfing and skateboarding were contentiously added to the Olympics there was a divisive split between those purists who argue it is against the heritage and freedom based DNA of the sports, and those who see it as positive progression and an opportunity to see their sport showcased on a global platform, climbing too caused similar divides.  “In my opinion" Shauna begins, "I think the more exposure a sport can get the better.  The Olympics is the most prestigious sporting event in the world.   If our sport can be showcased in a positive way then that can’t be a bad thing. If more people are getting involved in the sport, finding a new passion, finding a way to lead a healthier, active lifestyle, that surely can only be a good thing.  I can see why people would be apprehensive about it but I think it’s really a good thing in that the more people will see climbing will go and try it.  If one person finds a passion, just a small percentage of what I have in climbing, then that’s incredible”. 


It is clear Shauna has a relentless passion for her sport and for anyone else finding as much joy in it that she has, something that led her to create the Women’s Climbing Symposium 8 years ago, and which ultimately she was awarded her MBE for by the Queen for services to her sport.   An all-female led event, Shauna explains that “Initially it was an event about barriers and tackling them. I didn't realise when I started climbing that there were women who were afraid to climb with their boyfriends, or get big muscles, or climb when they were on their period, or there would be things that I never would have considered…I wanted to open up a dialogue and give an opportunity to ask questions, talk and learn from it and other people’s experiences."

A consistently sold-out event, the Women’s Climbing Symposium gains in momentum every year, drawing together 100’s of women and girls to collectively celebrate climbing and meet, train and share;

“Over the years the event has really developed and grown into a celebration of the sport. It isn’t an event about women, it’s an event for female climbers to celebrate that they do the same sport and get together and get some advice get some coaching, hear from other people ad just really embrace climbing as good as it is and that community, which is really strong.”

The future looks incredibly exciting for the Champ, and as we dust off our chalky hands and share high fives with Shauna and Leah, it isn't hard to imagine seeing Shauna on the Olympic stage with the same energy, an emboldening mix of positive vibes and super-hero strength and talent.  


Stay Tuned For More From The WHY I SERIES, Landing Soon...




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SurfGirl Magazine are a staple read and favourite at Mad To Live HQ, and we were stoked to feature in their latest Sofa To Surf Travel Guide, where they take a look at Mad To Live Retreats x The Surf Experience epic dates in Portugal.  

Check out the feature below and book a spot to Mad To Live Retreats here!

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So excited to find Mad To Live Retreats included in our favourite bible of all that is health, wellness, travel & awesomeness, Women's Health UK's run down of the Top 21 Fitness Holidays of 2018!

Check out the feature below, and thanks to Women's Health UK. You rule!

Book a spot on Mad To Live Retreats here!

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The mositure-zapping effects of central heating, skin-flaying bitter winter winds and Vitamin D starved pelts can mean by mid-winter, our skin is in serious need of some SOS.  City-bound dwellers especially can take a serious hit from pollution damaging their skin, and I find whenever I am in the big smoke, the accumulation of dirt and pollution really makes me break out and dulls my skin. Not rad.  Check out my run down of my all-time favourite products that I go to for a serious pre-date/meeting/pep-up SOS.


Kerastase Fusio-Dose HomeLab From the luxury of the salon to the comfort of your home, Kérastase introduces Fusio-Dose HomeLab personalised hair treatment; offering the instant hair transformation as experienced in salons in a new, take-home kit. Individually prescribed by your hairdresser following a hair diagnosis, Fusio-Dose's results can now be further prolonged until the next salon visit with 4 personalized at-home applications, a must for tamed, healthy hair.

Decleor Hydra Floral White Petal Sleeping Mask  I quite honestly have never found such a hard working product as Delcleor's Hydra Sleep Mask.  When I am on location for jobs, working long days over an extended time, although I am feeling like death warmed up some of the time, my skin says anything but once I've slathered on this miracle potion at bedtime. Doing the hard work as I sleep, only to woke up to shining, healthy, near sparkling skin.  A literal skin saver.

Mixa SOS Repair Hand Cream French skin-care experts Mixa are one of my go-tos for daily hydration, in summer and winter.  Their SOS Hand repair balm is straight up the best hand cream I have ever tried,

Dr Sebagh Pure Vitamin C Powder Cream Ok, Dr Sebargh doesn't have the ‘DR” in front of his name but no reason.  I LOVE Sebagh products, they really, really work and have had a pretty extraordinary effect on my skin when I’ve been hunkered down in the city too long and my beach-side glow has been zapped. The Pure Vitamin C Powder Cream is a glow-boosting tube of magic packed with anti-oxidents that protect against nasties like free radicals from UV rays (tick), environmental pollution (double tick) and stress (WIN).  A direct hit of vitamin C to the face quickly resuscitates flagging faces.

I also am a a serious advocate of the Dr Sebagh Deep Exfoliating Mask which I have relied upon in times of high stress and too much frantic city living (this beach baby can’t take much of that!!!) to even out my skin.  An exfoliator without the nasty plastic/apricot beads or granules which are number 1,  hugely damagaing to the environment, and 2, our skin, the mask gently dissolves skin cells to reveal tighter brighter skin.  Yes please.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Eye Rescue C Tils Magic Eye Rescue  is another trusted favourite in my SOS arsenal.   Clinically proven to reduce dark eye circles by up to 12% in 8 weeks, the replenishing peeper-lover is packed with retinol molecules that works wonders on tired looking eyes.  Trying to get Sh*t done girl-bossing about town is hard work y'all, and bags under the eyes are a side effect I don’t want to worry about. Thanks C Tils.

Sanoflore Aqua Magnifica Organic Skincare wizards Sanoflore use pesticide plants to turbo-charge their all-natural product.  Their hero-product Aqua Magnifica toner packed with 9 essential oils and peppermint restores skin and tackles any unwanted blemishes and bumbs.  A new addition to my cabinet that I LOVE.

TAN LUXE SLEEP OIL A potent blend of 5 essentjal oils including Argan, Vitamins B5, C and E, Sleep oil works as you’re hitting the hay for 40 winks, revealing glowing, fresh skin with a slight tan the next morning.  Ideal for when we’re feeling sand-paper dry and like Casper’s cousin mid January.

Kerastase Aura Botanica Packed with argan and coconut oil , this nourishing micellar shampoo gently cleanses away dirt and impurities, protecting against frizz (a constant winter battle).  

Nails INC back to Life Recovery Treatment and Base Treatment An advanced recovery treatment and active base coat in one superpowered by five rich reviving oils to deliver intense relief to damaged nails.

Bareminerals Stroke of Light Late nights or dull, dark under eye circles can be hard to budge, and if you need a helping hand, this illuminating tint blends seamlessly to conceal imperfections for a refreshed, radiant, even-toned look. 

Chanel Rouge Allure INK Matte Ciquid Colour Need to look like a girl-boss but chapped winter lips playing havoc?  Chanel's matte liquid lip colour is  packed with jojoba oil, matcha green tea, sweet almond oil, and more to hydrate lips.  This puppy packs a punch and also does not budge, leaving you one less thing to worry about.





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London born super-facialist Katharine Paterson is a go-to name for those in-the-know about skincare.  Her holistic approach to beauty has won Katharine legions of loyal customers, paired with her second-to-none knowledge and highly tailored treatments means she is a highly sought after expert.

I talk to Katharine about how she started her business, KMP Skin (formerly Azure Beauty ) in London's Mayfair, and pry into her top take-away skincare tips to get you glowing.



"Since I can remember, I have always had a fascination with all things beauty related. When people used to visit my parents house, I always used to get told off, because I used to accost their visitors and sit on the back of the sofa subjecting them to having their hair styled at ‘my hairdressing salon’! 

I first started working in the beauty industry whilst still at school at 16. I was just desperate to get out there and work. My first job was working for Benefit cosmetics - I remember thinking I had landed one of the sweetest jobs working on a cosmetics counter! University never really called out to me in a big way. I decided to take a gap year to think longer about what I wanted to study, and went full time with work, giving me time to see if I would come round to the idea. I moved from Benefit and worked with Lancôme and Yves Saint Laurent cosmetics.  

When it came round to submitting university applications for the following year, I still hadn’t developed a yearning to apply.  It was actually friends of mine that encouraged me to not worry about the pressure of feeling like I had to attend university, and apply to do beauty. They were like ‘you love doing make up, you’ve always been interested in this world, just go and learn all of it! If you don’t enjoy it, then go back to thinking about university’. 

So off I went, up to the London School Of Beauty and Make Up, near Oxford Circus in London. I spent over a year full time studying for a CIDESCO diploma. It was an intense course and hard work, but I loved it. 

After I qualified I really wanted to work with Declèor skincare. I had been using it on my own skin since I was 15. It was a dream to land my first choice work location pretty much fresh out of college. It was a beautiful place, at the time they had a wonderful and super strong team of girls. I worked there for over 7 years, progressing to a senior spa supervisor.  It was here that I was introduced to Carita skincare there and worked with the brands Environ and Shiseido too.

I had amazing opportunities, working with the press, VIP clients and travelling with my clients, but when the time was right, I left to co found Azure Beauty in 2014. I wouldn’t say I ever strongly imagined having my own business at that point in my life, but now I love being self employed.

I love the challenges (and constant stress!) of growing a business, and it’s so rewarding. One, to have the most direct relationship with your clients and two, seeing my business start to flourish. 

In June 2017 I took the business forward as the sole owner, and at the end of 2017 will relaunch and rebrand under KMP Skin. This is something I am incredibly excited about, beginning the journey of building a new brand. 



A lot of my clients are time poor, managing busy work schedules along with home and family life, so as much as they want to feel zoned out after a relaxing treatment, they also want to walk out the door, feeling like they’ve had something more results driven. 

First things first, I always look at a clients skin and focus on getting this functioning at its optimal condition. For example, there’s no point in focusing on fine lines around your eyes, if you’ve got a persistent bout of rosacea going on.  Age prevention (I do not like the term ‘anti ageing’)  is a massive focus, as well as skin rejuvenation for more mature skins. 

I have a lot of clients I treat with concerns about getting ‘that glow’ and general overall skin tone, so treating pigmentation, whether it's post traumatic pigmentation from acne, or pigmentation from excessive sun exposure. 

I’m also seeing a big increase in clients wanting help with treating menopausal skin.


  • Cleansing properly and SPF!

I do often say to clients that there’s absolutely no point in spending hundreds of pounds on really amazing moisturisers if they’re putting them on a skin that has seen 5 seconds of a cleansing wipe every evening.

  • Also, the whole process of cleansing, when done properly, stimulates the skin, thus promoting blood flow, thus increasing oxygenation, thus increasing cellular turnover… that means healthier skin!


"It’s not just about skincare here, its really about taking a holistic view to your wellbeing."

  • The most important factor I would actually say is sleep. Something I’ve learnt myself recently too, is that it’s all about the quality of it, not just the quantity! The whole point of sleep for humans is to give us time for our bodies to heal, repair and rejuvenate and this is all happening to your skin too! 
  • Drinking lots of water, trying to eat a healthy well balanced diet with lots of fruit and veg, not eating excessive sugars and keeping alcohol intake as low as possible. Sugar really is so damaging to skin, the oxidation it causes to skin cells, just makes is so dull, and slows its renewal. 
  • Of course, using a good range of products, but the right products for your skin, and taking time to care for your skin. When you have a facial, its not just all about the benefit your skin will be getting from it. Actually taking that time to relax, unwind and enjoy the change of energy from someone else's expert hands are all healing for the skin and the soul. 
  • I really try not to force rules to 'abide' by down my clients necks, we are all human after all. Of course we are all going to have one too many glasses of champagne at some point, or enjoy a really sweet pudding - I will be the first person to admit to this. At the end of the day though, if I have a really excessive week, where I haven’t had a lot of sleep, eaten badly and haven’t taken as much care of my skin, it really shows on my skin, so I know I need to reign it in! 


  • UV PROTECTION FACTOR and antioxidants! The younger you start using a daily SPF on your skin, the more protected your skin will be for the future. I have so many clients say to me, ‘but why do I need an SPF in the middle of winter in dull London?’ - well actually, UV damage is more prevalent in cities, because of increased smog and pollution particles, making free radical damage much worse. 
  • Free radicals are reactive molecules that are formed when normal skincare cells are mutated by pollutants, such as petrol fumes, cigarette smoke and sun rays. SPF will protect against these. 


  • You will find that most dermatology based skincare brands are now creating SPF’s that also protect against ‘High Energy Visible Light’ (HEV). HEV is basically the light that is given off from screens like your computer, tablets and smartphones, as dermatology studies have found that HEV can be damaging for skin too. Epionce Tinted SPF 50, is a great sunscreen that covers all of this. It’s light, great for sensitive skins, isn’t overly greasy and the tint also gives skin a soft blur effect.

Using antioxidants internally and externally will also help to prevent and repair again damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin C in high quality forms is an amazing antioxidant for skin, and really helps to strengthen and repair skin.

  • iS Clinical has a great selection of Vitamin C serums, because there's one designed for sensitive or compromised skin if needed, and another to really focus on skin optimisation for stronger skins.
  • Eating lots of dark leafy vegetables, and berries also have the highest naturally occurring levels of anti oxidants in them.


If you suffer with the odd hormonal or stress spot, my best advice is NOT to pick it as already these types of spots are angry little things, and the trauma of squeezing them just makes them even angrier!

I sometimes recommend almost ‘suffocating’ if you like, the spot with oil. I personally think this is good for sensitive or thin delicate skins. 

Declèor Neroli balm is a bit of a miracle balm which has been around for years. It was one for the very first products I started using by Declèor. It has Basil in it to purify and purge the grime out of skin, and Chamomile in it to heal. Also it’s 100% natural and paraben free, so a great option for people wanting take a more natural route to skin care. 

If constant acne is an issue in varying degrees, using a serum or cream with certain skincare acids in will increase cellular turnover. This will improve skin texture and scarring and dry up/prevent further acne from appearing. Lytic renewal serums from Epionce are fantastic for really improving a blemish prone skin. This whole skincare line is based around improving the skin barrier function. I do think it’s important not to just reach for any types of products containing acids though, please do see a skincare specialist that can look at your skin properly and advise and prescribe case by case. 


I’ve never really been one to invest in gimmicks for skincare, or for treatments, and there are a good few of them around! I tend to go for products that have been clinically tested, or contain active ingredients I know offer results for skin.

My skincare routine changes season by season, and this is important for everyone.  You really shouldn’t be using the same moisturiser on your face in the height of summer as in the depths of winter, the same as you wouldn’t be walking around in a cashmere sweater in the middle of August! 

  • My constants in my skin care routine though are Vitamin C serum, and a hydrating serum of some sort. My skin loves Carita Lagoon Serum, I would probably drink the stuff if I could!
  • I’m big on toning skin. A lot of skin care specialists aren’t necessarily fussed with toner, but I think it’s an important step to restore the pH of your skin, so bacteria can’t breed on skin causing blemishes. I have been using Declèor Tonifying Lotion for over 15 years- it’s alcohol free and the scent almost has this sentimental value to me now.
  • I’m a massive fan of a sheet mask. They’re so easy and convenient to use and travel with, and a mask offers really quick results when needed. I love Hyalual WOW masks, which are full of hydrators and collagen to really plump and hydrate. 
  • At night time, my skin has never really liked night creams, but it loves an oil/balm or more of serum. Declèor Lavendula Iris serum is on my bedside table at the moment. The smell is so calming, and I wake up with rested, glowing skin. When I can feel some breakouts lurking, or if my skin just needs an overall exfoliation then I’ll reach for a renewal product, like an Epionce lytic or iS Clinical Active Serum. I’m really not a fan of strong grainy exfoliants for home use. They just cause a lot of trauma to the skin, and are often used too much. 


 In your 20’s you should just try to start consciously make an effort to get into a good skincare routine, and protect it.

  • Take your make up off at night
  • Clean your skin properly
  • Use SPF! 

The earlier you form these habits, the less of a shock or chore it becomes to look after your skin in later life.

Your 30’s, is the decade when you start to notice that your skin doesn’t bounce back into shape as quickly after a night out, and you might start to notice a few expression lines starting to make a permanent fixture on your face.

  • This is the time to start using products with more results driven ingredients in.
  • If you’ve not used a serum before, start getting into the habit of using one- this way you can focus your serum on your concerns like attacking lines, or toning down pigmentation if you have any.
  • Hyalronic Acid is your friend! Use it to really flood your skin with water and moisture- most lines start from dehydration. 

In your 40’s you’ll probably find that your skin texture changes and starts to lose its volume. Also, oil production has really slowed down so skin trends to be drier.

  • Making changes to a richer cream, or perhaps using a facial oil are good choices to make.
  • As we age, the skins natural exfoliation process slows down, so keeping this at an optimum level will prevent heavier pigmentation forming and keep skin more able to really take in the benefits of your creams and serums.
  • Trying to get into the habit of using masks and massaging your skin at night too will help to keep the blood circulation going and keep the skin plumped, dewy and glowing. 

*All products mentioned are available at KMP Skin. (


The Icon facial (my most popular treatment !) : 

Duration: 90 minutes 


Azure Icon

Our Azure icon facial is one of our much loved treatments, it really gives us time to assess your skin and properly address your individual skin concerns. Expect a relaxing treatment, but a really thorough facial. We will expertly cleanse, exfoliate and analyse your skin. Then follows youth boosting facial massage, LED and Infa-Red light therapy and muscle firming futuristic technology with immediate results. Known as our signature treatment by many, this comprehensive age defying facial will work to deeply sculpt and lift the skin.

(For all skin types, especially those wanting to focus on age prevention and first signs of ageing)



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"Literally, one of the best weeks of my life..."

Want to know what the ladies who come on Mad To Live Retreats REALLY think of the trips?  I pinned down some of the girls on the last night of their retreat (disclosure: For some of them, some wine may have been drunk ;) )for a natter about what they experienced.

Check it out, and I advise you watch past the credits... ;)