Bringing the beauty – a Travel Post!

I’m super excited. Tomorrow I’ll be going to New York for the first time! And then up to Canada, to stay with a friend. I can’t wait, and I thought that before I go I’d share how I roll when it comes to travelling.

IMG_3709

These are my essentials for hand luggage. A good book. Palmer’s lipbalm. Weleda Skin Food (for my face). Weleda Rhinodoron spray for my nose (the dry air doesn’t like my sinuses). A mini Jurlique Rose Hand Cream (luxurious and nourishing, because I’ll be using a tonne of antibac hand wipes too). Pacifica Coconut Milk Wipes (for freshening up). Urbanears Headphones (the best, and prettiest). Gin Gin ginger sweets (for ear popping purposes). Benefit’s They’re Real! (because my eyelashes are more or less see through so I need mascara at all times). Buddha Nose Girl Balm (the smell is calming and refreshing at the same time).

IMG_3734

I’m so glad I invested in a few new mini bottles to decant all this in. Because it went from all that…

IMG_3697

To just these! So satisfying. I’m going to need to wash my hair while I’m away which is annoying, because I need to use so much shampoo and conditioner I have no choice but to bring whole bottles. But being able to shink the rest of the products down to just this has helped SO MUCH. Most of these bottles came from Muji, with the exception of the Travalo perfume bottle, and the oil bottle, which actually came from a Weleda Body Oil set.

IMG_3699

I’ve kept it super simple with make up. To be fair, my make up routine is very simple all the time anyway, as I rarely experiment. I just decanted a couple of broken eyeshadows into my tiniest travel pots to save a little space.

So that’s it! I’m really pleased with how much space I’ve saved with those Muji bottles. Happy travels, touch wood! And if you’re going away yourself this summer, I hope you have a great time 🙂

Advertisements

The Arboreal Pit Viper

If you watched I Bought A Rainforest this Sunday, you’ll no doubt have been fascinated by Andy Whitworth and the world of the Crees Foundation. When Charlie Hamilton James and his crew – the hilariously entertaining Adrian and Hector – arrived at Crees we were in the middle of the monthly Leaf Drying. Crees is running a 20 year long Biomass study with Oxford University, to investigate the content and abundance of leaf litter on the forest floor.

DSCF1885

Every month, leaf litter is collected from designated areas all over the reserve, for the volunteers and interns to separate, dry and weigh. It takes days, because the bags of litter have to be sorted into seeds, leaves and sticks, then dehydrated slowly in a drying oven, and weighed after each stint until they stop getting lighter (this final dry weight is then the one that gets recorded). This is why so many of us were home in the middle of the day when Andy was showing Charlie a deadly Arboreal Pit Viper, known locally as a Loro Machaco. We crowded round, excited to watch the photography unfold.

DSCF1901

As Andy briefed Charlie on the snake, we all began to wonder if getting him getting this close to something so deadly was wise – Charlie still had almost an entire TV series to film. Lexi, another staff member, ran off to our enormous first aid box (a necessity when the nearest doctor is a 40 minute boat ride and 30 minute hike away) and brought back the anti-venom kit. It sat on the side of the Project Room, reassuringly present during the filming.

amazon2

Screenshot from I Bought A Rainforest – watching carefully as Andy wrangles the snake

The snake (who is still one of the most beautiful creatures I’ve ever seen) has a seriously awesome tongue. Charlie really wanted to get a photo of it as it flicked out. But snakes don’t just flick their tongues for fun. They do it to scope out warm prey, and there was only so many times that expertly brave Andy could move his hand towards the snake before the risk got too high. He suggested we warm up a banana in the leaf drying oven, to simulate a body that would pique the interest of the viper’s heat sensing pits. I ran off to the cage we kept the bananas in (yes a cage – no other way to keep the insects away!) selected the snake’s victim and put it in the heated wooden box. After a few minutes we removed it, and Andy waved the fruit near the snake – it was immediately alert, its tongue curiously tasting the air for the source of the warmth. Charlie got some stunning shots, and we returned to our afternoon of leaf drying whilst listening to a combination Reggaeton, and each other’s iPods.

DSCF1882

Charlie’s programme was eye opening, moving and incredibly important. He’s given us a rare opportunity to see every aspect of the incredibly complicated issues that the Amazon, and the people in it, face. The lesson to be learned is that the people who will ultimately save the rainforest are the people who call it home. All we can do is use our monied privilege to help in any way we can.

I am a past volunteer of the Crees Foundation and an avid supporter of their incredible work. This post was written completely independently of them and was done from memory – so apologies if I got anything wrong! If you want to read more about Crees click here. If you want to help them support the development of a sustainable Amazon, click here. And if you want to read more about Charlie Hamilton James’  work in the Amazon, click here

Saving the Rainforest

I stood still, silent. Around me the forest creatures chirped, squawked, trilled and croaked.  The longer I stood the more I could hear, unknown numbers of infinite species. I had been in the Amazon Rainforest for just a few weeks and already two new frog species had been found. One was new to the area but already documented by scientists, while the other, with a lime green body and bright yellow toe webbing, was an entirely new discovery. It was staggering to witness first-hand this abundance and diversity of life, to see a hundred different kinds of butterfly in one day, to hear fifty different birds call in one morning.

DSCF1691

The lush greenery pressed in from all sides; moss covered branches, enormous leaves, and thick tree trunks all moist with the clean, humid air. Between the trees I could make out the peak of a mountain in the distance, coated in the undulating canopy of ancient forest. I heard the high, wavering call of a Tinamou, gentle yet louder than the small insects and amphibians around me.

I was in the Amazon Rainforest. But the trees that stood tall, supporting this massive collection of life, were only thirty years old. Before that, in the sixties, the area was a cattle ranch. You can still see the remains of a stone building at the top of a hill, perhaps an old outpost or cabin. Known as regenerating rainforest, when the cattle ranch closed the forest was left alone, allowed to grow back without restriction.

DSCF1680

Trees put down roots, undergrowth spread, and mammals, reptiles, insects, birds and amphibians returned in their droves. This area is proof that the rainforest can be saved, that we can fix the destruction our greed and ignorance has wreaked on the lungs of the earth. It takes time, of course, but animals make the most of the thick undergrowth that covers the regenerating forest floor. Birds and monkeys even put the smaller trees to good use, moving easily through the thinner canopy. Animals can happily adapt to these minor changes – whilst still enjoying their original pristine rainforest just as much as the newer parts.

In fifty years time, the canopy in this area will be as high and dense as nature allows, the floor will be dark, and what was once new growth will again be part of the ancient, wild, wonderland we call the Amazon. However, there will come a point where the jungle can no longer grow back, when we cut too far for it to heal. But it hasn’t happened yet. If we act now, we can save the rainforest.

I was inspired to write this post by the new BBC2 series ‘I Bought a Rainforest‘ which has been highlighting the massive, complex issues facing the rainforest. If you would like to learn more about CREES, the amazing conservation charity I was involved with, please take a look at their website and current fundraising campaign, which will help the Amazonian people to live sustainably. 

Amazon Rainforest Memories

Maybe it was the sudden burst of rain this afternoon, or maybe it was the fact that I’m finally getting back into writing my book (that’s set in the rainforest), but today I couldn’t get the jungle out of my mind. I had such a life changing time there, and while I wasn’t there for as long as a lot of people, it’s stuck with me as one of the best things I’ve ever done. I want to share some videos from the charity I volunteered with, because they’re actually really nice to watch.

Continue reading