Sunday, 31 January 2016

A Road Trip To Ireland

Have you ever felt like you belong somewhere, even before you've visited? Just from looking at photos and hearing stories, you somehow feel connected to it, like it's already apart of you.  Last week thanks to Up And Go, Jon and I set off on a road trip to Ireland thanks to their Dawn Breakers Campaign, where we were given a Camper Van and £1000 to go on an adventure.

Growing up to my Grandads stories of his life in Ireland, the beautiful landscapes and cold but famous Irish sea, it had always been somewhere Jon and I had been desperate to go, trace my family history, and explore it's surf breaks, so we picked up Margo, a beautiful 1970's VW Westfalia Camper Van from the Up And Go offices in London, and travelled down to Pembroke in Wales, to catch our Ferry over to Rosslare, Ireland. 10 minutes into our drive, Margo broke down in the middle of Central London, on a busy dual carriage way...It was safe to say we were a little worried that Margo wouldn't even make the 240 mile drive down to the ferry, let alone across to Ireland! The thing about VW camper vans, even though they are beautiful, they are defiantly not the most reliable form of transport you could choose to take on a road trip, and we were told on many occasions "it's all part of the adventure" I mean you can't exspect to take a vintage car on a road trip and not have any car trouble haha! but it was safe to say by end of our trip we loved Margo, and for a Grandma she did pretty well!

After breaking down in London, it turned out Margo's battery was flat! So once we fixed that little issue we carried on down to Wales, to catch our ferry over to Ireland. We travelled with Irish Ferries, and being our first time travelling via water, rather than air, I have to say it was pretty amazing! You may have read perviously that I'm not the greatest of flyers, and travelling with your surfboard when your flying is not only expensive but the chances of your board getting damaged in transit is pretty high! So being able to travel with everything packed up in the van was awesome! We didn't have to worry about our luggage being over the weight limit or having to pay extra, and when you arrive the other side you don't need to worry about hiring a car as you have everything you need with you.

On the ferry we had our own cabin, with beds, shower, wifi and TV (we don't even have a TV at home haha so this felt like a little bit of a luxury) if you had your laptop with you and wanted to get on with some work you could, or even if you wanted to shower and sleep you had the option. They also had a cinema and selection of restaurants on board. I was really impressed with the food options, as normally when it comes to eating out, for me it can sometimes be a bit tricky, but the Irish Ferries menu catered for everyone. I would defiantly recommend the fresh vegetable stir fry and fruit bowl, they even had my favourite brand of Aleo vera juice on board!

Our Ferry ride was over pretty fast, and just like that we were in Ireland. By the time we docked it was already dark, so it was hard to believe we were actually there. We headed to a nearby hotel to get some sleep, ready for our 5 hour drive in the morning, across to Kilcatherine in South East Ireland. We woke up to a cold, but crisp day, and considering we were still in winter the landscape was  beautiful rich and green and full of life! We packed up the van and set off to the coast and our little cabin we had booked on Air B&B on the edge of the Wild Atlantic Way. 3 hours into our drive, while going around a bend, the gear stick snapped clean off in Jon's hand haha! We can defiantly laugh about it now, but at the time we honestly thought we might be stranded in the middle of Ireland! With VW's being so old, part's can be hard to find, so we just had to pray that we could find a car garage on a Saturday that could help us put Margo back together and we could continue on route to Kilcatherine. Luckily we found a garage a few miles down the road, who stayed open late for us, and after some welding, Margo was patched up and we were back on our way.

By the time we finally made it to our cabin night had already set in, but we knew where ever we would be waking up was going to be beautiful from the silhouettes of mountains we passed as drove along the empty, winding roads. At the cabin we were greeted by our Air B&B host Stephen, along with a bowl of freshly made soup and local soda bread he had waiting for us. Our log burner was already lit and as we settled in for our first night in the cabin, accompanied by nothing but the sound of the ocean and the light of our fire, we were asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.

It took us 2 days, 1 ferry ride, 2 break downs, over 20 hours of driving and 597 miles to reach our cabin on the coast of The Wild Atlantic Way, and as we woke the next morning, seeing our surroundings for the first time, we knew it was all worth it. It felt like we had stumbled across our own secret Ireland, which we spent the next few days exploring, finding different routes, hidden paths and the most beautiful views we had ever seen. I found it hard to believe that a place so beautiful could be so uncrowded. It was quite overwhelming to fell like we had the whole of the Beara Peninsula to ourselves. We could park up and not see another soul for hours, it was just the landscape and us. It's honestly one of the most beautiful and peaceful place I've ever been. We'd spend the days covering as much land as we could in Margo, trying to see every inch of the Peninsula before returning to our little cabin when night would fall. We'd wrap ourselves in blankets by the fire, with a cup of tea and the Irish, folk music radio station playing in the background, before we were ready to fall asleep.

After a few days exploring the South East we packed up Margo, said goodbye to our little cabin and headed back North, getting ready for our journey back to the Ferry and to pay a quick visit to the cold water surf spots on the North Coast. We headed down to Tramore Stand, and with our van packed full of our winter wetsuits, hoods, boots, gloves and surfboards, we were ready to brave our first surf in the cold Irish Sea. Sadly for us, when we arrived the wave's weren't in our favour, and the surf was a total wash out, but Jon still managed to jump in, catch some wind chop before heading back in 5 minutes later from the lack of waves and freezing cold conditions haha. Afterwards we found a little cove and set up camp in the back of Margo, with the boot open, we wrapped ourselves up in my aztec beach blanket from sundripped and sat back to watch the beautiful view of Newton Cove. This was defiantly one of my favourite views from our week, and the perfect way to end our Irish Road trip. Afterwards we packed up Margo for one last time and headed back to the Ferry for our journey home.

If you have ever wanted to travel to Ireland, I couldn't recommend it enough! Only a 5 hour ferry ride away it couldn't be easier, and we can't wait to go back in the summer! I would defiantly recommend bringing your car or van with you, that way you can bring everything you need with you, and don't have to worry about hiring a car the other end, and trust me a car is pretty essential if you're planning travelling around Ireland when your there.

Ireland Travel Tips: 
  • If you travel via Irish Ferries all plug sockets on board are european (2 pin sockets) so make sure to bring an adapter or you can purchase one on board. Also they have the option of a fast or a slow ferry. We opted for the slow 4 hour one, or you can get the fast one that gets you there in 2 hours. The fast option is a lot rougher, and we heard lots of sea sickness stories, so bare that in mind!
  • In Ireland everything is in Euros, so make sure to have some ready before you arrive, as there is a few toll bridges when you get into the city which we had no cash for.
  • In Ireland they measure distances in KM instead of miles like we do in the UK, so bare that in mind when reading maps/distances.
  • Make sure you bring a map, as not all Sat Navs will work in Ireland.
  • Lastly if you are driving over, make sure your breakdown coverage covers you for Ireland as it is classed outside of the United Kingdom.

Check out our video diary from our Irish road trip below! I hope you've enjoyed our little trip photo diary, and if you have any questions about Ireland or where we went, free free to comment below! x


FAQ: All Photography & Video shot by Emilie Layla Lovaine and Jon James on a Canon 5d MK II
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Saturday, 9 January 2016

Hi-pro nutrition PB & coconut creamed oats

Because sometimes weekends are all about duvet days, turning off your alarm and allowing your body to sleep and wake when it's naturally ready. No schedules, just letting letting your body do its thing. It maybe mid-day, and I haven't long woken up, currently sat in my PJ's with a bowl of my #lovaineeats Hi-Pro Peanut butter and creamed coconut and cacao oats in front of me, and I can't even begin to say how refreshed and calm I feel for the first time in so long. For my favourite brunch bowl of oats you will need 1/2 a cup of oats, 1 spoon of coconut oil, and 1 cup of almond milk, add in 2 teaspoons of peanut butter, 1 teaspoon of cacao powder and simmer in your pan. Once you are happy with the consistency, poor into a bowl along with your favourite toppings! I added Buckwheat, Goji Berries, Almonds, coconut, pumpkin seeds, and not forgetting a nice spoonful of peanut butter on top! This has to be one of my favourite breakfast bowls! What's your's? Let me know below, and don't forget to tag your photos with #lovaineeats on Instagram.
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Friday, 1 January 2016

An Honest Twenty Sixteen. Lifting the filter

Have you ever had that feeling of being completely content? that smooth feeling that washes over your entire body, letting you take a deep breath in, and as you let out a subtle sigh, you suddenly see the world crystal clear. For the first time everything is how it should be.. 
Fresh, natural, alive, passionate, creative, inspiring.

I have always been to ambitious for my own good, its like my soul cannot sit still. My creativity and focus shifts on a daily basis, my impulses are something i've called my biggest curse but if not one of the greatest things to influence my creativity and career. I am constantly working on something, to find the end result of satisfaction, but for some reason I never find it. For along time I have always felt like I'm still not where I 'should be' avoiding sleep as I feel like I could be doing something more beneficial with my time. I'm not sure who or what I've measured my life by for so long to make me feel so incomplete. This morning I woke up to find the words Twenty Sixteen in front of me, as I turned the pages of my new diary, full of crisp white pages, waiting for me to write down and fill it with all my hopes and resolutions for the year ahead. I've always been one of those people who has really struggled with the concept of time, I mean we set ourselves milestones that we want to achieve within a certain time frame, but what happens when that day comes and you may not be where you thought!?

If 2015 has taught me anything, it's taught me that you cannot plan everything, as life really isn't that simple. We can give ourselves a rough outline of where we hope we might be heading, and do our best to work towards it. In 2015 I left my full time job in marketing and social media to go freelance, and run my little Lovaine Store full time, well that was the idea, but my life quickly took a new path without me even realising. During my first week of being self employed, an email from Nike landed in my inbox 'we've got something exciting coming up, and we would love you to be apart of it' and I know looking back now, that was the day everything changed, as all my plans and ambitions I'd been working towards quickly got put on hold, as I set off on a new journey. 

This year my blog has blessed me with so many incredible opportunities, that even now I'm still so grateful and overwhelmed to have been offered them. I launched my own 5 week workout video series with Adidas, I got signed to the Agency MOT Model's in London! I qualified as Personal Trainer after being offered sponsorship with The Training Room, I travelled to Morocco on a bloggers trip for a hotel launch with the Hyatt Hotel Group, I got engaged to my best friend! I modelled in a billboard campaign for Gym Box and I finally started making an income off my blog! I picked up my camera again and fell back in love with photography, and I've been supported and worked with some incredible brands this year, brands that I never dreamt I'd work alongside of. Brands like Nike, Adidas, Billabong, Misfits, Lululemon, Polar, JD Sports, Motel Rocks, Free People, Asos, Surfgirl..it's incredible what you can achieve when a brand believes in you! And my most favourite thing that 2015 has brought me, is all the beautiful and inspiring people I've been lucky enough to cross paths with thanks to the blogging and fitness world (too many names to mention, but I'm so thankful for my fitness family and how much we inspire and support each other).

Even though this year has had so many high points, this year has also had times which I've had to face and overcome. When you share most of your life online, to then make the conscious decision to hide certain elements, it can sometimes feel like your living a lie..and thats how it felt to me. In May my Doctors referred me to an Eating Disorder Unit for outpatient treatment. Sometimes our eyes can become jaded, and its hard to see when passion gets confused with obsession. I was overexercising and under eating, if I was even eating at all, as well as struggling with Bulimia. I stopped working and my only drive was to exercise and go to the gym, as well as running at least 10K everyday, it was honestly all I could think about. I got so used to running on empty and pushing my body to the extreme that it wasn't until my Doctor assigned me to weekly blood tests and ECG's that I realised just how far away and detached I was from the person I started the year striving to be. Heading into 2016, looking back I can thankfully say I'm now in a completely different, and more relaxed and healthy mindset, and I'm so proud that I was able to be honest and recognize that I needed help (thanks to my partner and best friend) I luckily got placed into a treatment programme almost immediately, which I know isn't always the case for everyone, so I'm so grateful for the NHS, my GP and the team at Campbell House for such an incredible service and support system.

We tend to only show the best part of our lives on social media, filtering out the bad because we worry what other people will think of us, you may have had the worst day or being going through a really tough time, but for some reason we don't allow ourselves to share it, express it, or sometimes even deal with it, putting so much pressure on ourselves to show this perfect life. How can you deal with something and overcome it if you can't be honest about the situation you've found yourself in? and that's where #liftthefilter  was born... I created #liftthefilter to let you know, and more importantly let myself know, that it's ok if your having a bad day, week or even year...you WILL get through it. The Blog and Instagram communities are some of the most inspiring groups I've been apart of, and I've met so many amazing friends thanks to it, but I know sometimes my life that I showcase on here isn't that simple, especially during the last 7 months. Today I wanted to #liftthefilter. Our blogs and Instagram's act as our visual diaries, so let's make them honest, lets make them real. If I have one resolution for 2016, it's allowing myself to be honest. I know now that where I was 7 months ago, the situation and struggles I found myself in, it doesn't define me, it's where I am today, the lessons I've learnt, and who and what I strive to be from each day that follows that does. So here's to a clean slate and an honest 2016! For any of you that maybe struggling or feeling overwhelmed with food and exercise, just know help is out there. Reaching out to your GP, friend or loved one is the first step, or head over to BEAT - the UK's leading eating disorder charity for more information and to find services near you.

FAQ: Photo taken from our trip to Morocco on a canon 550D with a 50mm 1.8 lens and Meikon underwater surf housing. The sunset was so beautiful that Flo and I ran straight into the sea fully clothed. It was so cold but so incredibly beautiful. I have never laughed so much in my life!

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Thursday, 31 December 2015

peanut butter and coconut date dreamz

It's safe to admit that I have the worlds biggest sweet tooth...I mean I defiantly fall into the category of people that would much rather trade their restaurant starter for a dessert instead! Can you blame me?! I try and stay clear from all animal products and processed foods as much as possible, suffering from a condition called Endometriosis, the foods I put in my body have a massive knock on effect on my symptoms, so I whipped up these super clean #lovaineeats peanut butter and coconut stuffed dates, for some mini sweet treats!

These little guys pack a serious punch, filled with a variety of our essential vitamins and minerals like Iron, Potassium, Vitamin A, K, and B, Copper, Magnesium and not forgetting a heavy dose of Fibre. Dates make the perfect snack for when you find yourself hitting your mid morning/afternoon sugar cravings, as well as being a slow energy release, they make the perfect sweet treat! I feel like Dates have gotten themselves a pretty bad reputation, maybe down to the average person that normally feasts on them being in their 60's, but trust me when I say to never judge a date by its cover! These things are filled with delicious, chewy, caramel goodness! I can't tell you how many of my friends I've converted with my #lovaineeats peanut butter and coconut combination. Let me know how you guys get on, and if you have any stuffed date combinations of your own! x
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The year it all changed. 2015 We got engaged!

 I was told to pack a bag, and get ready for a surprise weekend away to Snowdonia in West Wales, to celebrate my 26th Birthday. Jon and I met in Wales in 2008, on our first day at University. We had both enrolled on the Fashion Photography and advertising course, and had also been placed in the same flat, with Jon's room directly opposite mine. Jon was the first person I saw every morning, and the last person I saw before I went to sleep. For 3 years, both being on the same course, and house mates, we spent nearly everyday together and quickly became best friends. Jon was the only person that could make me laugh to the point of tears, I'd laugh so much my face would ache, and my sides would hurt! I remember Jon used to joke that we spent to much time together, and I was the reason he couldn't get a girlfriend, as people thought we were a couple, I'd always joke and say it's ok, one day your marry me...not ever thinking it would actually be a reality. I also remember when my friends would ask me who my 'ideal man' was and I'd always say someone like Jon..

When your so close to someone, sometimes it's hard to see what's really in front of you. I remember falling asleep under Jon's arm one night, with a little help of dutch courage, I nervously asked for a kiss...I remember waking up the next morning and thinking...did that really happen?! I whispered across the breakfast table to our mutual friend Bei (Owen) that Jon and I had kissed, he automatically stood up, raised his hand in the air and shouted 'I call best man, I call best man' haha and after that first kiss we quickly realised we were more than just friends, but we had fallen in love.

I remember the first time we went out as a couple, walking to a christmas party, Jon reached down and grabbed my hand, I'd never been so nervous and excited at the same time. That night was also the first time our friendship group had seen us together, not just as Jon and Emiee, but as a couple. We had our first public kiss, which was then quickly interrupted by all of our friends clapping and cheering...it seemed everyone but us knew we were meant for each other.

5 years on, with each year filled with so much love, laughter, and fun than the one before, we set off for a weekend away, back to where we first met and fell in love, climbing the highest mountain in Wales. We spent 9 hours, hand in hand walking to reach the 3,560ft summit. Afterwards, wrapped up in our sleeping bags, we set up camp at the bottom of Snowdon, with our tent over looking a lake, surrounded by nothing but mountains. Jon lit a fire, and started to cook our dinner on our camping stove, as we watched the fog rise up and cover where we had just walked. He wrapped me in more blankets and told me to try and stay awake...after all that walking I was fighting to keep my eyes open. I had my head rested on Jon's chest, and noticed his heart started to race so I sat up, by the time I turned around Jon was down on one knee, by camp fire, in front of a moonlit lake, surrounded by mountains in Wales, asking me to marry him...I couldn't believe it! I couldn't believe my best friend was asking me to become his wife. I burst into tears, to scared to take my hands away from my face...I'd always dreamt of marrying Jon, but never really imaged when, or how it would happen, so when it finally did I was lost for words. Jon said it was the first time he had ever seen me speechless haha. I said yes, and Jon placed a beautiful engagement ring on my finger, but not just any engagement ring, It was a ring that had belonged to my beautiful Nan, Elaine. Elaine was the head and heart of our family, and since she passed, our family had never been the same. We were incredibly close, so it was so special that Jon had proposed with Nan's ring, and she was able to apart of that moment with us.

In 2008 we met in Wales as strangers, and in 2015 we left Wales engaged as husband and wife to be. I'm so excited to spend the rest of my life with my best friend, and share everything leading up to our special day, when Emilie Layla Lovaine becomes Emilie Layla Lovaine James, and share all our wedding journey with you. Happy 2015 everyone x

FAQ: Photos take on a Canon 5d MK II
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