International Women’s Day (IWD) is on the horizon, so it seems timely to pay homage to the wonderful creative women in the world who continue to inspire through their work. Photographers, writers, bloggers, entrepreneurs, leaders and more: you absolutely inspire me.
To celebrate IWD, Tuesday 8 March, photos by female photographers have been released from the CEWE Photo Award, and some have been shared with us to showcase to you!
The CEWE Photo Award is one of the world’s largest photo competitions, and invites submissions in some of my favourite categories including travel, animals, architecture, landscapes and food.
Travel and culture category: three young children walk along a uniquely structured building in Myanmar, photographed by Laura Menesini
People category: A woman in traditional celebration festival attire admires her reflection in a mirror as the sun sets in Venice, by Mia Feres
The beautiful thing about this award is that an opportunity is open for all creatives at any level, from amateur to established professionals.
Entrants were asked to submit photos that celebrated the competition’s ‘Our World is Beautiful’ theme.
The images showcased here are some of the best from the wonderful creative women who submitted their work. It really makes me want to dust off my EOS and get back out there.
Animal category: a curious pup takes a closer look at a purple flower on its daily walk through the park in Austria, photographed by Corinna Kobliska
Food and cooking category: a selection of jam shortbread biscuits are ready to make the perfect afternoon snack, by Laura Amos in Heilbronn, Germany
Nature category: early morning dew graces a plant as the light of day shines through, by Viktoria Smid in Hungary
If you’re a creative woman like me, and an aspiring photographer, pop in your diary to keep an eye out for this year’s CEWE Photo Award opportunity. It will return for a fifth year in the UK’s springtime.
~~ Feature image at top- Hobby and leisure category: in Krakow, a young girl dances with a pony in this magical fairytale-esque shot by Laura Domagata
In response to readers’ questions we’ve produced a house sitting Australia guide. While Cooper and I have our sitting experience in the UK and Europe (so far), we are Australian, and happy to offer insight into an incredible destination.
If you dream of spending time Down Under, house sitting in Australia is a great option. Here we’ll share with you options on what sites to use, and where to go in Australia as a house sitter.
What is house sitting?
House sitting is where you take care of someone else’s house – and often, pets – in exchange for free accommodation. Some people do get paid to house sit, but many do not. You can house and pet sit anywhere in the world, and it’s a great way to see new places and supplement accommodation costs.
House sitting Australia wide gives you a real chance to see our beautiful country. If you’ve ever tried to plan a trip to Aus, you’ll quickly have discovered how vast the country is. Also, for most people Australia is a long way to go – so you want to have a bit of time to stay and travel, if possible. With all that travel as an expense, house and pet sitting in Australia can save you money on accommodation. An added bonus is that you might end up discovering an amazing place that you wouldn’t have if you’d not been assigned a house sit there.
We find it’s a good idea to not get too attached to a particular outcome when applying for house sits. Don’t just aim for Sydney, for example. Search for what’s on offer in the State of New South Wales, and then you can travel to Sydney around your house sit.
Similarly, see what’s available in some of our other gorgeous big cities like Brisbane (such a GREAT place these days), and the Gold Coast in Queensland.
Travel visas to Australia can be granted for up to a year, and house sitting in Australia allows you to ‘go slow’ – take your time in a place, immerse yourself in the Aussie lifestyle. There’s no better travel experience than this, and house sitting gives you an economical way to do it.
If you want to travel this way in Australia, a few important things you should consider:
As mentioned, Australia is huge. Our cities can be spread out, and the space between towns and cities can be vast. How do you plan to get around when travelling in Australia? Will you be taking the bus or train long or short distances? Will you hire a car, or buy a cheap one? Access to your own transport options will determine where you go. It’s very hot here, sometimes you simply can’t hike for hours to get from one place to another. Plan your travel – and your house sitting commitments in Australia – accordingly.
How much money do you want to spend while travelling in Australia? There are very expensive destination here, like Sydney. But if you head to lesser known towns or cities, you’ll find cheaper cost of living and travel options. Determine how long you’ll be here, where you want to go, and consider ways you can save or spend money.
When you’re on the ground in Australia, there are plenty of tour operators who advise those with a lower budget on bus or train deals for getting around. Smaller towns or cities like Cairns also offer visitors on a budget more deals for entertainment and excursions that won’t break the bank. Get on Aussie forums or ask questions of other Australians for advice and local tips before you travel.
We’ve got everything in Australia, from the city to beach, Outback, rainforest and desert. What would you like to see? Do your research and aim for house sits in destinations where your wanderlust can be quenched.
Remember – Australia is huge – so you’re best to place yourself in an area that’s in your heart to see. That said, there’s something to be said for being open to new experiences and surprises. I’ll leave that one with you.
There are six states in Australia:
New South Wales
and two territories:
Australian Capital Territory
At a glance
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is where our national capital, Canberra, is located, and it is the centre of government. New South Wales (NSW) is Australia’s most populated state, and our oldest. This is where Australia was originally settled by the British, as a penal colony on the shores of Port Jackson where Sydney now thrives as the country’s largest city. Our home state, Queensland (QLD) is Australia’s second-largest (in size). Here you’ll find the world-famous Great Barrier Reef, unique rainforests and extraordinary islands. You’ll love Queensland – and our capital Brisbane – if you enjoy warm weather, outdoor and water activities.
On the other side of the country from Queensland is Western Australia (WA), Australia’s largest state. Here you can explore vast deserts and secluded, sublime coastlines – miles and miles of untouched serenity. The state’s capital is Perth, a popular destination for travellers from all over the world.
Victoria (VIC) is the smallest of the mainland states in size but is home to Australia’s second most populated (but arguably coolest) city, Melbourne. Fashion, art, coffee and culture – Melbourne has it all, and all visitors love it! This lovely state is full of beautiful coastal and country scenery too.
Wine lovers, head to South Australia (SA) in the southern central part of the country. Adelaide, the capital city, is a foodie paradise, and a great base for exploring surrounding wineries, the Flinders Ranges and wilderness hotspot Kangaroo Island.
At the top of Australia, you’ll find the Northern Territory (NT). Darwin, on the northern coast and Alice Springs further inland, are the most well-known destinations up here. You will have heard of the famous rock, Uluru too – it’s here, at almost Australia’s geographical centre.
From the top to the bottom of Australia – discover beautiful Tasmania (TAS) which is separated from the mainland by the Bass Strait. Tasmania’s capital, Hobart, was founded in 1804 as a penal colony, and is Australia’s second oldest capital city after Sydney.
Our advice on what to look for in house sitting sites:
We have been house and pet sitting for about six months now, and plan to do more. But we did our research for at least a year before deciding to sign up for a service. In my experience, here’s how I recommend you assess a site before planning your dream trip (to make sure it IS a dream trip).
Professional look and brand feel:
This might be stating the obvious, but there’s no excuse for a lazy website these days. Look for professional design and easy user experience. I believe it shows care and that there’s likely to be a team of professionals behind the brand. I’d also be looking to see how easy it is to find basics like FAQs, details on how your details and security is managed.
Website videos, testimonials and social media:
If you’re ready to take the next step and commit to a house sitting site, whether you want to travel to Australia or elsewhere, delve deeper to see what you can find. Are there videos the brand has produced to show what they do and how far they reach?
Another simple tip is to take a look at how they present on social media – are there recent posts, reviews, a presence, even? This all goes a long way to show the legitimacy of the brand, its offering, and the people using its service.
You get what you pay for:
I come across a lot of ‘forum’ looking sites, or ‘shout outs’ on Facebook. If you’re going to negotiate with a stranger online for a free deal, good luck to you. A lot of people have mentioned to us that they were considering putting a call out on Facebook, for example, or applying for jobs they’d seen on there or a free site.
All because they don’t want to pay a subscription fee. In my opinion this is highly risky – you could end up anywhere!
Look at reviews on sitters and house sits:
If you go down the route of paying for a service, which I highly recommend for your own security, take the opportunity to look at reviews. Just like you would on Airbnb or Tripadvisor, you can gain a lot of insight be looking at what people have written about a house sit, or a sitter. If there are gaps, that may be a sign you should take too.
And please don’t forget the old rule: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is!
Subscribe to the service’s e-news:
If you’re interested in house sitting Australia or internationally, and you’ve identified a service to use, sign up for their e-news. This call to action should be easy to find on their website, and their newsletters will give you more insight into how active the brand and its users are!
Paid vs free
I’ve found a few sites that are either totally free or that charge sitters but not home owners. This doesn’t sit so well with me. House sitters should have the same protection as home owners, and in my opinion I think if both parties are willing to pay for a service then that for the most part legitimises those services.
Paid services usually mean more security checks too, on home owners and house sitters. Nothing’s ever perfect, but you can set yourself up for the best chance at an awesome experience. Invest the time and a little money into this – we believe it’s worth it.
If you have other views or questions, do let us know in the comments. Or better yet, join our dedicated house sitting group on Facebook – join here ☺
Malta is an incredible place which offers a lot to practically anyone who wants to stay. But what do you need to think about when it comes to where to stay in Malta? There’s a variety of choices across a wide space, so the choice might be tricky. Luckily there are some absolutely incredible parts of Malta to stay and any one of them can be a great choice for you. Let’s take a look at five of the best places to stay in Malta to help you decide.
Our top 5 picks: where to stay in Malta
The first place that we want to take a look at is Mellieħa Bay. This is a very relaxed locale with beautiful scenery and a palpable sense of chill. Beaches, coastal areas and modern accommodation and dining all await the guests of this choice. I’d recommend it for people who want to have a very chilled out and relaxing holiday, because it’s really something special.
For just a few euro, we spent the day lazing about at Ray’s Lido. Sleep on a day bed, enjoy some bubbles, read a book and watch the world go by.
If you’re not interested in a chilled out holiday, then it might be a good idea to invest in Valletta. The old capital city of Malta, this is a wonderful place to visit because there’s so much to do. There’s a lot of great history, shopping opportunities and dining chances. You just have to make sure that you have researched the public transport links because trust me, it can get busy!
Valletta is convenient because it’s central. The island’s buses all head into here, and from here you can reach other areas of Malta on public transport. Find out more about things to do here.
This wonderful waterfront promenade is home to our third destination for people to stay in Malta, and it’s the best place to stay in Malta if you want lively nightlife. This is the bar and club area, which is worthwhile for anyone who wants to enjoy themselves in the evenings!
Along the Sliema waterfront you’ll also find a beautiful boardwalk for walking, running, exploring; and there’s great bars along there with afternoon cocktail and meal deals.
St Paul’s Bay
St Paul’s Bay can be looked at more as a resort than anything else. Set around a picturesque bay, find an ocean front apartment to stay in for a chilled-out break. As far as options on where to stay in Malta, this area offers newer accommodation, a bit like Mellieħa Bay further around the coastline. It’s a great option if you’re seeking a beach holiday, rather than a city break, which is what Valletta offers.
Gozo Island is a wonderful location which offers a charm all its own. It’s an island, and has its own city and customs which you can enjoy. It’s still quite near the mainland so you don’t have to worry about whether or not you can enjoy all of Malta. There’s easy transportation on and off the island, which is good for people who want to come back and forth at their leisure.
You can catch a ferry between Malta and Gozo from various points on Malta. Sometimes accommodation deals are cheaper on Gozo, which is why we’ve included it as one of our best options on where to stay in Malta.
These are five areas in Malta I would recommend that you consider basing yourself. They’re all stunning. For another perspective, we like this local’s guide on where to stay in Malta.
It’s so important to have somewhere to stay that works for you as a traveller – what kind of trip to you want (active, chilled), and what are your transport options? These will feed into where to choose. For further tips on the best places to stay in Malta, take a look at this guide, or drop us a line in the comments with your questions.
Malta video guides
👉Watch our vlogs on Malta for more travel inspiration. They went viral on Facebook 🌞
What does the term ‘historic hotels London city’ bring to mind for you? Maybe it’s the Ritz over near Buckingham Palace, with its famous afternoon tea. There’s the Savoy and Claridge’s, certainly. I used to walk past stunning St Pancras each day on the way to work, it qualifies.
But did you know about Batty Langley’s?
Listed as one of London’s six best hotels in Conde Nast‘s Gold List, it’s time you definitely did hear about it ⭐
Hotels London city: WHY you need to experience Batty Langley’s
Batty Langley’s in London city near Liverpool street doesn’t even look like a hotel from the outside! It’s completely unassuming. To step inside feels precisely like you’ve stepped back in time. Georgian times, to be exact.
I read a piece about this historic hotel in London city that captured it beautifully for me. The review mentioned that while this place is a hotel, it doesn’t feel like one.
It feels more like you’re visiting your [very] rich aunt’s house.
It’s so true, in the most affectionate of ways 💕
We’ve written about staycations in London and accommodation you can try in east London – Shoreditch and Liverpool Street – but we’ve never seen anything like this!
The attention to detail and perfect mix of old meets new is truly something special.
Adventures in the past
The hotel is housed in a restored Georgian building, and is named after Batty Langley (1696–1751) who published guides for the upper class on how to tastefully plan a lavish home.
Inspired by Batty’s work, proprietors Douglas Blain and Peter McKay went to extraordinary lengths to recreate the style of the era. Their labour of love took 20 years to complete, but the finished product is exquisite.
With the exception of a few modern luxuries like smart televisions; furnishings, art, antiques and ornaments from Georgian times have been sourced and decorate the property.
Full of Georgian characters
Our room was on the 5th floor, which we accessed by a little elevator. Cooper and I definitely had a ‘pinch me’ moment upon entering the Kitty Fisher suite. It was like living a past life where we were RICH – we had a balcony with city views, huge four poster bed, a little library and sitting room, and a grand bathroom complete with a genuine Victorian canopy bathing machine.
Kitty Fisher is another Georgian character whose name graces the hotel’s walls. She was a courtesan, known as the subject of a nursery rhyme: “Lucy Locket lost her pocket, Kitty Fisher found it…”.
Ms Fisher came from humble beginnings when she was a milliner (maker of fashionable hats). But the story goes that her beauty, smarts and charm led to her mixing in the right circles and hence she climbed the social ladder of her time.
If we were to ever tire of our own luxurious Georgian suite named after Kitty, we had the rest of the place to enjoy too.
Despite having 29 rooms (all named after interesting Georgian characters) tucked away within the hotel, it’s rare to see another soul. So, off we went, to laze about in the old library, Downton Abbey style; and enjoy a whiskey by the fireplace in the olde-world stylish sitting room.
Facts about Georgian times that add flavour to a stay
While we were at Batty Langley’s, the staff shared some interesting facts with us. Did you know that hotels only really came into being during the first half of the 1800s? Before the Industrial Revolution which began in the 1700s, most people lived and worked on the land, and wouldn’t have ventured very far. In the 1800s things started to change with the Industrial Revolution and the steam locomotive. The middle class – who ran and owned businesses – began to travel, and hotels became their beautiful escape. You can imagine this scenario within the palatial walls of Batty Langley’s boutique establishment.
We also looked at how well made the furniture is from Georgian times. If you examine a wardrobe, for example, you will see the effort that has gone into ensuring the grain is all in the same direction. Evidence of this craftsmanship adorns the hotel.
Finally, did you know that despite the period being entirely romanticised now, the Georgians didn’t have bathrooms? Apparently everyone stank! Very few houses had running water, the streets were filled with rubbish and animal excrement, and chamber pots were often emptied out of windows onto the street. It’s a far cry from the cleanliness and opulence you’ll experience within the hotel and surrounding streets today, but interesting to know about all the same. What do you think?
London city stay: what to expect in the area
We don’t need to be sold on east London (we’re fans!), although staying at Batty Langley’s gave us renewed appreciation for our surroundings.
Convenience wise, the hotel’s perfectly located for any kind of stay in London. You’re within walking distance of Liverpool Street and Shoreditch stations, so can get anywhere, easily.
Just up the road is Spitalfields, which houses markets, foodie delights, pubs and shopping. You can walk to famous Brick Lane for a curry in about 15 minutes.
Back to the history: it’s all around you, inside the hotel and outside. From cobbled streets to elegant old churches and imaginative architecture: go exploring in this exciting corner of old London.
Spitalfields itself was originally the site of the Priory of St Mary Spital, or Hospital, established in 1197! Part of the hospital’s kitchen lies under the hotel building and more substantial remains can be seen in a floodlit underground chamber just around the corner in Spital Square.
Residential development of the area began when King Henry VIII renounced the Pope’s authority and seized all English monasteries in 1540, selling off to loyal subjects. The area became attractive to immigrant settlers who were not allowed to live or work in London city itself. At that time, this area was just outside the city walls.
We spotted evidence of different period buildings as we wandered the streets here. Of course Georgian architecture is obvious too, known by its red brick and symmetrical shape.
Exclusive accommodation in east London
What can we say other than this hotel is absolutely beautiful? It’s cosy enough that you feel at home, yet luxurious with quality touches and service expected in a fine hotel. The staff were perfect as well. (thank you!).
Batty Langley‘s website says:
Our quiet, characterful bedrooms are furnished with genuine antiques, and every one is different. Our bathrooms are so extraordinary, guests often ask if they can take them home. Your surroundings here are civilised: old fashioned hospitality, friendly, efficient staff, and a location second to none.
We have to say, it’s all true. This bit of web copy is absolutely not fake news. If you’re looking for a wonderfully London experience and prepared to splash a little extra cash for a once in a lifetime stay, Batty Langley’s is for you. It’s truly like living in an opulent period film – and who doesn’t want to try that for a night? Book your stay
Cooper and I were sponsored by Hazlitt Hotels for this stay.
Images: battylangleys.com. Video: Cooper Dawson
Ibiza has struck something in us: there’s a magic here, and the Ibiza sunset certainly proves it night after night.
There’s an energy on this island, and it’s got nothing to do with the clubs or the music. Although I won’t lie, those are cool too. However, this is a place where people have gathered for a very very long time, to pursue a spiritual calling.
Around the island you’ll find mementos of times gone by: the Romans were here; we took part in a sunrise Yoga class by an ancient Phoenician tower… It’s rumoured the lost city of Atlantis is under Es Vedra which is just across the water. Ancient stories, tradition, culture – they all reference the sun as a source of energy. Here, there really is something very beautiful about the light, and everyone must see the sunset.
As the sun hits the horizon, everyone cheers. It’s fabulous. We’ve seen proposals happen at that moment, and a roar of happy energy as thousands of people from all corners of the earth relish in one special moment.
Where to experience this for yourself?
3 areas where you can see the Ibiza sunset: our favourite spots
Restaurant el Carmen or beach areas opposite Es Vedra
Many people go to this area to meditate as the sun sets. That’s pretty special 🌞
Head for the beach areas opposite Es Vedra. Here you’ll witness the sun set over the mystical island. It’s one of the three most magnetic places on earth (alongside the North Pole and Bermuda Triangle).
Sirens, UFOs, and more mysteries surround it. This blog writes beautifully about sunset here – worth a quick read.
Sunset Ashram or Kumharas beach bars
Two excellent places listed in our round-up of best beach clubs Ibiza: Sunset Ashram and Kumharas are on the same side of the island. They’re not too far from each other, and you need to get over to this side of the island to explore all its lovely secret beaches, but you’re best to have a car to get to them.
Kumharas is set right on the beach. Sunset Ashram is stunning, surrounded by aqua and deep blue coloured waters! Enjoy non-stop music, great energy and a spectacle you won’t forget.
While there are plenty of great venues along Ibiza’s sunset strip, all the way from Wi Ki Woo, Cafe Del Mar, and Savannah to bars like Ibiza Rocks and Tulip around the other side of Sant Antonio Bay (Sant Antoni de Portmany), our very favourite is Cafe Mambo.
Here, a tradition has unfolded, where hundreds gather on the shoreline to watch the sun hit the horizon. There’s cheering, and the music kicks in. Live DJs (some very big names, I might add) do their stuff right there for all to enjoy.
It’s a brilliant experience if you want to be around people and are partial to a bit of dance music at its best (me!).
Have a tip or questions? Let us know in the comments.
The White Isle, a magical place on the Mediterranean. We love it 😃 Here’s our pick of the best beach clubs Ibiza you need to experience!
Cala Conta, San Josep
We wandered up to the front entrance not thinking too much of it. Of course, we guessed it might be kinda cool – we were standing on top of a small clifftop and ocean surrounded us, after all. But, we had no idea the spectacle we’d receive inside! Crystal blue and aqua ocean all around; diners, drinkers, beach-goers. And a DJ playing sweet house tunes. Blissful.
Sunset Ashram is a little out of the way so you’re best to get there in a car. But, you have to go at least once. The location is stunning. Just have a look in my Ibiza Insta Stories!
Not for the expensive part, but for the stylish bit.
This is your stereotypical up-market Ibiza beach club. Beautiful people laze about drinking Moet. The beach is sandy white and spectacular. Inside the decor is classy and breezy. A nice experience, if you’re into this scene.
Babylon Beach Bar
When you’re done at Wednesday’s huge hippy market in Es Canar, pop into Babylon. It’s about ten minutes drive away. We got there at lunch time and to our happy surprise there were places to sit, have a cool drink and enjoy the view. You do have to pay for the day beds though, which is where it gets pricey.
Babylon is more of a laid back yet stylish beach club in Ibiza, set in a peaceful cove. Definitely one of our favourites.
San Antonio Bay
In a fun little corner of Ibiza, not far from Sant Antonio, Kumharas is set right on the beach. It’s known for its hippy-chic vibe. Prices for food and drinks are comparatively better than other Ibiza beach clubs.
This is one for a ‘lil dance on the beach as the sun sets.
Stylish, secluded with serene ocean views – this one is set on a hot sandy beach ⛱ Start the day with Yoga at the far end of the beach, then settle in for a relaxed day filled with good vibes.
This option is more private – if you too love a secret beach, have a read here for more of the world’s best.
Playa d’en Bossa
Some may say it’s over-rated, but we had a brilliant time when we inadvertently stumbled into this beach club.
Bright colours, even brighter personalities, music, great cocktails and all set on the beach.
It’s easy to while away a few hours in bubbly bliss here.
These are 6 of our favourites. We’re aware there’s plenty more awesome beach clubs in Ibiza though. Ibiza Spotlight highlights a few more if you’re keen to look around.
Have other tips or questions? Let us know in the comments.
Welcome to Travel Live learn, where we are passionate about living a life full of great adventures. We are Sarah + Cooper: we know life's short, and we're here to encourage you to make the most of it! We have worked in media, communication and creative roles for many years, and have spent over 10 years living and working abroad. Our hottest content topics here are pet friendly travel, house + pet sitting, and designing a life as expats or digital nomads wherever in the world you want to be. Join our community of over 11,000 like-minded adventurers - find out more by signing up for the mailing list and our Facebook Group. Find us on YouTube too. NEW podcast now live: search 'Freedom and Four Paws' on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts or your fave podcast service provider.