Traveling Sardinia

Summer seems to have totally caught up with me this year, I feel like I’m still just getting into the swing of this sunshine and I am NOT ready for it to leave. Last minute frantic planning for our Sardinian adventure comes as no surprise, as most of our trips are spontaneous… or just unorganised. We booked flights to the island after a bit of googling research ‘where can I do lots of fun stuff in the sun, eat good food and not get ripped off?’ was the basis of my search. And after scrolling through breathtaking pictures of Sardinia on Lonely Planet, flights were bought and the decision was made. I make that sound a lot simpler than it was – Callum and I are both  faffers, and we totally faffed over where to go for a little longer than that! But a large mediterranean island, with spectacular mountains, cliffs and caves accompanied by crystal clear turquoise water for snorkelling and free diving? How could we say no…

IMG_7233So basically – post holiday I’ll cut to the chase and totally recommend Sardinia (especially the northern part of the island) as a place to visit… and double especially if you are outdoorsy and up for a bit of exploring.

Before you go

How to get around – 100% you’ve got to rent a car, the island is large, everything is spread out… and there isn’t really much going on with public transport – I didn’t see a single bus or train the whole time we were there. But we found this such a great way to get around. (Just double-check your accommodation has parking).

Best time to go – June & September, we read a lot online about prices surging in July/August and all the lovely quiet areas we visited would most likely be hoaching during these months.

How to get there – unfortunately there are no direct flights from Scotland, so we had to get a connection via London (but that was actually straight forward and not too much hassle). We flew into Olbia which is ideal for exploring the northern part of the island.

Where to stay

Cala Gonone – is where the limestone peaked mountains meet the sea via sheer cliffs with incredible caves and white beaches. We absolutely loved staying in Cala Gonone, it had a very low-key friendly vibe and was ideal for exploring both mountains and sea.

Processed with VSCO with c8 presetGPTempDownloadIMG_1736Alghero – is one of Sardinia’s most loved medieval cities. We stayed in the old town which was a beautiful section of the city with traditional old buildings, no cars and was bursting with culture and incredible restaurants. Parking was a bit of an issue since there was no cars allowed in the old town – but we managed to find free parking at the marina (I know shock – marinas are usually extortionate).

Costa Smeralda – we didn’t actually stay here, although I’ve heard it’s a favourite for anyone looking for a bit of glam. We visited the area for a day, and it is very beautiful. Although if looking at other people’s super yachts and cars is off-putting, I’d stay clear!

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Where to visit (day trips)

Olbia – despite its industrial outskirts, Olbia has a beautiful historic centre. We stopped here for lunch on our way north to Costa Smeralda and were pleasantly surprised by how authentic and affordable it was. Lots of lovely boutiques, cafes and wine bars.

Dorgali – looking for a tourist free zone? Dorgali is small and nestled within the limestone mountains (not far from Cala Gonone). Ideal for hikers and climbers.

Porto Cervo – sooo, not exactly our kind of play ground but if you’re looking to pop champagne and wander round super yachts for an afternoon… Porto Cervo is your place. Lots of designer shops, swanky restaurants and all kinds of other fancy stuff.

Stintino – home to Sardinia’s most recognisable beach Spiaggia della Pelosa, and at the islands most northwestern tip the small village has beautiful views and unspoilt scenery. We had a really chilled day here, the beach was busy (so we didn’t last long) but we walked into the village and had the best meal of our holiday at La Darsena.

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Things to do

Explore mountain tracks – there are heaps of incredible mountain ‘tracks’ online, the ones we found were really scrambley so I’d recommend sturdy trainers for the hills.

Beach hopping – there are dozens upon dozens of beautiful white beaches all along the coast line (I imagine all the way around the island) – and most have paths between each one ranging from 1 hour to 5 hour walks. Also very scrambley with lots of loose rock, so not one for the flip-flops!

IMG_3758Rent a boat – we did this in both Cala Gonone and Alghero. Cala Gonone was probably the favoured location due to the incredible cliffs, caves and swimming spots. Alghero was almost as equally nice, but not quite as breathtaking as Cala Gonone.

IMG_4601Snorkel/free dive/scuba dive – we brought our own kit bags from home, but there are heaps of dive schools, centres and rental shops in every town and village.

Image 22GPTempDownload 2Processed with VSCO with 1 presetKayak/SUP board – again you can find places to rent boards and kayaks everywhere – Cala Gonone seemed to be the best location for this to paddle into the incredible caves.

Cook with produce from local markets – even if you miss the markets, the small local shops sell the most incredible produce. We only ate in one evening, but had breakfast and lunch in our apartments quite often… the most simple food tastes so good!

Eat out – do your research or ask your apartment/b&b owner to recommend the best local restaurants. We got pointed in the right direction and it really paid off, the food was honestly incredible.

IMG_5197IMG_5249Wine tasting – I’d save this for the west coast, which is teaming with farm land and vineyards… from large businesses running tours, to smaller independent family run sites – whatever tickles your taste buds!

Overall, we had an incredible time in Italy. If anyone fancies a Sardinian adventure and wants to ask some questions, slide on into my DMs on Instagram and I’ll be happy to chat! @ronamcmillan

Thanks for reading

R x

Trespass goes 2 TRNSMT

Finally, its festival season! And unlike pervious summers in Scotland… for as long as I can remember, festival season is shaping up to be a paradise of sun this year. So to celebrate in the best way possible, Trespass sent me along to TRNSMT fest for the day to try out some new pieces from their festival collection and gather some snaps and BTS shots of all the festival fun.

Unlike most festivals TRNSMT is a day fest with no camping – ideal for me because I live a 10 minute walk from Glasgow Green. This was the first time I’ve ever traveled light to a festival and it was actually harder than I expected – thankfully Trespass kitted me out with the essentials which I will share along with a few bum bag (since we’re at a festival) must haves.

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Sunday was a scorcher, by 3pm areas in the festival grounds were up at 30°C – I was unbelievable grateful to be wearing quick dry material which takes all moisture away from the skin so you’re not left swimming in a puddle of your own festival sweat. Sorry that’s gross – but totally resembled most people around me!

This T comes in a few different colours, and orange is actually my fav colour (thanks Trespass for being telepathic)! Nada Women’s Quick Drying T-Shirt

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Lifesaver! This hat was the second best thing I brought to the festival (the best is yet to come) – really lightweight, really cute and kept the glare off my face all day long.

Brimming Womens Straw Hat

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After two weeks in Italy my eyes have never been so exhausted from the sun, you know the burn you get when you close your eyes at night after being out all day? Well these guys definitely helped prevent that on Sunday –  and they are currently 50% off!

Halcyon DLX Sunglasses

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So here it is – the BEST thing I brought to TRNSMT (not the sunflower).

Qikpac Women’s Parkway Waterproof

And although I only had this jacket on for aprox 10 seconds to take a photo before I melted, it was the handiest thing to have with me. Everyone spent the majority of the day chilling on the grass to avoid heat exhaustion, and since I was wearing cream shorts…

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Sadly – I had to give up my gorgeous wellies for my handbag flip-flops ^^^ which I desperately wanted to keep on all day, but my feet were overheating just a bit too much.

Samira Womens Wellies

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A few more festival tips...

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Remember to eat. Even when it’s hot and appetites are low, we still need energy from proper food… or just find a doughnut as they’re harder to refuse!

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Water is your pal – nobody wants a dehydrated heat exhausted friend to look after when everyone else is having fun. But bring a water bottle and use the free refill station… because I didn’t and had to pay £3 for 500ml every time I was thirsty, AH!

Bumbag essentials

  • Hand sanitiser and tissues/wipes
  • Sun cream
  • Portable battery pack (phone charing is £8 for one hour)
  • Water bottle (free refill stations)
  • Sunnies
  • Paracetamol
  • Hair bobbles (three different girls asked me for one during the day)
  • Cash (take it out before you get into the venue – machines charge)
  • Ticket & ID

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Thanks for reading, and for anyone heading to TRNSMT round 2 this weekend or any other festivals this summer – have a fab time!

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And of course, a huge thank you to Trespass for kitting me out and sending out for a great day.

Rona x

Keep up with my lasted adventures on my instagram @ronamcmillan

 

 

Two Bare Feet review – snorkelling kit

Snorkelling is an awesome way to explore the blue shallows – most people have given it a go in warmer waters abroad, but there are some incredible snorkelling spots on our door step if we are willing to face the cold. Kit wise… not much is required and what you do need; doesn’t come at too much of a cost. I think most of my Scottish snorkelling experiences have been fairly unplanned – I carry my kit bag around in the back of my car everywhere I go just on the off chance I stumble upon a a beautiful stretch of water.

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So – I got some new snorkelling kit from Two Bare Feet last week and after taking it out for a spin I am going to write up my first impressions. I also have a few tips for buying new kit that could be helpful if you are looking to get in the water.

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Hood

I went for this 5mm hood in size M – I found the sizing pretty hard to work out/took a total guess and luckily it fits perfectly. The hood is snug around my whole head and neck – so much so I don’t think any water got in, my hair even stayed dry under the hood. The water temp was sitting at 8° on the surface, and quite a bit cooler as I dived down – the 5mm of neoprene kept me very toasty – so a big thumbs up from me.

My only negative for this product (other than the size guess) is that the neck panel was too bulky to go under my wetsuit. I thought this would be a bit of an issue for water leakage – but since the hood was so snug, I didn’t seem to have any problems.

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Fins

I’d usually opt for a longer fin (more of a free diving style) – however I thought a short pair would be really useful for wild swimming if I wanted to do any distance swims this summer – and they’re also a bit easier to manoeuvre!

These guys have an adjustable back which meant my feet didn’t slide back and forward while kicking and there is enough room to wear a very small boot with these if your prone to cold feet. I wore a neoprene sock and it worked perfectly with those too. No section of the fin rubbed on my ankle (which usually happens for me). So I’m pretty delighted with these – no negatives.

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Mask

I choose this silicone mask with tempered glass – reason being… silicone trumps PVC in colder waters. PVC masks look as good as silicone, and are usually cheaper; however they loose their flexibility in cold water which effectively ruins the fit of the mask around the face. Choosing a mask with tempered glass is also a good idea – tempered glass has a better resistance to scratches and is also better suited to changes in water pressure when diving down.

My only negative here (which is actually a fault of my own) was that I had some trouble clearing my mask when I first went in – I did the old saliva in the lens, then rinse with water etc and it continued to fog up. My mum gave it a good scrub with a soft piece of fabric and that seemed to do the job. Since then i’ve read that putting a small amount of toothpaste on your finger and rubbing it into the lense and washing it also helps prevent a foggy mask – so i’ll give that a go next time.

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Snorkel 

LOVE this snorkel – it’s the first time i’ve ever had a proper dry top snorkel and it makes such a difference when diving. FYI – a dry snorkel is a snorkel that has a mechanism on the top that prevents water from entering the snorkel as the snorkeler dives underwater. Very handy, and this one works very well. This snorkel also features a splash guard, and purge valve and the mouth piece is made from silicone (also good for cold water). No negatives here!

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Hood & Mask

Side note – usually I’d wear my mask seal under the lining of my hood… but as mentioned previously my 5mm hood is super snug and the width of the mask is greater than the width of the hood, so that didn’t really work when I tried. Instead, I wore the mask seal on the outside of my hood and I was really surprised that my mask stayed sealed.

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Gloves 

I was a bit stumped over getting 3mm or 5mm gloves – and given I always have frozen hands 5mm would have probably been wise. BUT I feel like I can’t move wearing such thick neoprene, turing a GoPro on and off is a bit of a struggle with thick gloves – so I went for the thinner ones and i’m really happy with them. I got a size S and the fit is great – they also have a velcro wrist fastening which stops water creeping in.

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Croc says 8

Why choose Two Bare Feet? 

– British company – based in Devon 

– Extremely helpful customer service – always happy to answer questions and give recommendations 

– Fast delivery – and easy returns

– As a returning customer (my SUP board is from this company, and have also bought a few different paddles and accessories in the last year) I have always had a fantastic experience, and have recommended to many friends. 

– Very reasonably priced – with incredible sale prices too

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A little bit from Two Bare Feet...

'In an age where everything is available at your fingertips, we thank you for shopping with us and for your continued support of Two Bare Feet.

We pride ourselves on delivering the best possible experience whilst shopping on our site and exceeding expectations from there on in. We moved from our retail shops to online e-commerce in 2008 and have continued to evolve, enhance and expand our product offerings whilst ensuring your shopping experience with us remains hassle and fuss free.

We appreciate all feedback as they help us to keep focused and on top of our game and of course exceed your expectations.'

With thanks to Two Bare Feet for supporting this post – all opinions are my own.

Thanks for reading 

R x @ronamcmillan

The Arrochar Alps in December

The Arrochar alps – sitting quietly in the midst of surrounding giants. Blue sky and views that stretch forever, glistening icicles, frozen burns and that iconic rock formation iced with heavy coats of white. The Cobbler in December!IMG_2190IMG_2198The best thing about winter hill walking in Scotland is unpredictability. The worst thing about winter hill walking in Scotland is also unpredictability! It is so hard to plan ahead, weather flickers by the second and so you either have to go super scout prepared with kit or take a risk with the elements.IMG_2197IMG_2195Without an abundance of waking kit this year, the plan was to stick to the wee hills only. 6 hour max routes, so we didn’t end up walking down icy ridges in darkness. Ben Arthur (The Cobbler) is one of my favourite hills, sitting at 2884 ft and with breathtaking views down Loch Long. We completed the hill up and down in 4 hours, and given our lacking kit of no crampons or poles it felt pretty speedy. IMG_2196We reached the summit at 2pm – the sun was low in the sky and cast incredible pink hues across the landscape. IMG_2194-5 at the top, and at least -10 with windchill meant our decent was slightly more challenging with frozen fingers and toes – IMG_2193But we weren’t as chilly as the ice climbers! IMG_2192IMG_2191Triple layers on the way down – and a teeny bit frosty/grumpy!WARM AGAIN! Thanks for a fantastic day Callum!

-and thanks for reading

R x

Ice Buzz – Christmas Water Sports

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A cold Christmas? It defiantly was for me; I feel the cold… unlike my three older brothers who seem to have built up an impressive immunity. Our holidays began with Christmas and Boxing day on the Isle of Bute at our Dads. With lots of relations on the island, we are really lucky to have access to boats, outdoor toys and equipment whenever we go over to stay! Despite the drizzle and dampening grey clouds (which would often put me off), we got going and had a great afternoon in Port Bannatyne Bay. Kit choice was slightly questionable – borrowed bits and pieces and with a wake board too small for anyones feet to fit in we improvised with one of Ewan’s surf boards.

IMG_3383IMG_3381IMG_0037IMG_0018If anyone fancies wake boarding (properly – unlike us) give Loch Lomond Wakeboard a visit, or alternatively the Glasgow Wake Park.

IMG_3157We then headed North West to Kishorn, beautifully caked in snow. This is my mums front garden, with breathtaking views over the Bealach na Bà and escaping sea views across to the Isle of Skye. It blows my mind every time I visit! My mum is very into wild swimming, whether its long distance, short distance or a speedy dip – she swears its beneficial physically and mentally; and I would not disagree. More often than not, it does take quite a bit of convincing to get me in the water, especially if I’m feeling a little run down. But I always come out the sea feeling fresh, awake and full of adrenalin. The best natural pain-killer!

IMG_3371Swimming proof!

 IMG_3373With new toys to be tested, and old toys to be used – we paddled round Kishorn Bay. Three kayaks, two paddle boards and a rowing boat (not pictured).

IMG_3370IMG_3210My birthday present shamefully getting used for the first time. I cannot recommend an inflatable SUP board more; Callum got this blue SUP (in my favourite colour) from Two Bare Feet for my birthday in October. I have always been keen to try SUP boarding, and I was also convinced I wanted a solid board that I could strap to the roof of my car. But I couldn’t be more pleased with the decision to get an inflatable – it performs as well as a solid board once inflated and is a million times easier for transportation.

IMG_3321New year, new wetsuit, same me?
New years day, we took the SUPboards (Ewan bought one as well, so thankfully there will be no soloSUPing) to Loch Lomond for a hangover cure paddle. I also got to try out my new super luminous Hurley wetty, which did a great job after I fell in attempting some SUPyoga. IMG_3384IMG_3357Hurley wetsuit from Surfdome

Thanks for reading, and if anyone fancies some SUP adventures let me know!

R x

Bothy Culture

First Bothy adventure of the year - UAGS

Unless approached by sea, Uags Bothy is at the end of an extremely boggy scramble from Toscaig (south of Applecross). We (Callum, Ewan and I) did plan to paddle there in sea kayaks – launching from my mums front garden in Kishorn and exploring the coast line until we reached Uags. Typically the weather came in, and the wind would’ve made it impossible for my wee arms to manage the 10 mile paddle – Ewan and Callum would’ve been fine, but they kindly joined me for the walk instead!

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We left Kishorn in Ewan’s new van, excitedly arriving at Toscaig at 4pm – we expected to be over the hill and at the bothy for sunset.. which we almost made; if only the path didn’t keep disappearing from under our feet!

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Arriving at Uags, we saw the very last of the sun dip behind the Cuillin mountains on Skye – which the bothy looks straight out to. January adventure meant darkness at 5pm, so we set up camp inside the Bothy and began prepping dinner – steak, rocket, peppers, broccoli, camembert cheese? Possibly THE poshest bothy dinner ever, but so delicious! The rest of the evening was spent huddled round the small fireplace, listening to the flames crackle, we chatted and told stories – and once the Jura was finished we hunkered down for sleep.

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I can’t say it was the best sleep I’ve ever had; Callum convinced me the Bothy was ghost infested and the creaking of the building warming up with our presence totally spooked me… I think i’ll sleep in a tent next time! In the morning Ewan went beach scavenging for fire wood (to restock what we had used the night before) as Callum and I swept, and tidied up the inside of the Bothy.

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We walked back to Toscaig – following the correct path this time, and headed home for a bowl of mums soup! Great adventure with the best people!

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Bothy Etiquette
  • Leave the Bothy in as good (if not better) condition as you found it
  • Take ALL rubbish home
  • Don’t leave food – this encourage mice and other hungry rodents
  • Double check all the windows and doors are closed tight before leaving
  • Bring some extras to leave behind – maybe a lighter, some candles, fire lighters etc
  • Collect fire wood for the next visitor – and stack indoors to allow it to dry – but don’t cut live wood!
  • Respect and welcome other people visiting the Bothy at the same time as you!
Kit List
  • Roll mat
  • Sleeping bag
  • Torch
  • Candles + matches/lighter
  • Firewood + firelighters
  • Pan + spork + sharp knife
  • Bin bag
  • Hip flak/whole bottle
  • FOOD + water
  • Waterproofs + boots + socks (with spares) + LOTS more warm stuff
  • MAP!

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Thanks for reading!

R x