TMF more than just a festival

Hands down, Tiree is my favourite of the Hebridean islands and also home to my favourite event of the year. Tiree Music Festival is a haven for Scottish trad music, supporting both new and established bands from all around the country. What’s really magical about this festival is the location; Tiree is a paradise of white sandy beaches with incredible surf, lush green fields and meadows of wild flowers. I heard so many people this year describe it as the ‘Hawaii of the North,’ and it’s true – Tiree really is an idyllic location whether festival-ing or not.

It is also a known fact that Tiree, along with its neighbouring island Coll receive more sunshine than anywhere else in the UK. Which I can vouch for 98% of the time – although with the sun comes immense wind, and since Tiree is extremely flat… temperatures don’t quite reach those of Hawaii. IMG_8766The adventure of TMF begins in Oban harbour, where hundreds of festival go-ers catch the 6.15am boat… only this year Callum and I missed the service update and turned up at 7.15am for the normal sailing (which was obviously canceled for the festival timetable) DOH! Luckily CalMac were running two boats that day, and we caught the second. IMG_2079Unlike most years, we are without the adventure camper van… so we hired a car from MacLennan Motors which worked out cheaper than taking our own car over… somehow! Tiree is deceivingly bigger than it looks on a map, so having either a bike or a car/van is really handy if you want to explore all its endless hidden gems.

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RIP Rusty – we miss you

Thursday night

We arrived on the late boat, pitched our tent and headed to Balevullin for some sunset steaks cooked on our super high-tech BBQ.

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Friday

Began with some coffees and cakes for breakfast from Yellow Hare on Scarnish Pier.IMG_2070Followed by half an hour of faffing with sim cards – incase you didn’t know signal is pants on the west coast… so we thought we’d swap to Vodafone for the weekend. Which worked well for signal, but 3G/4G was really just fakeG. IMG_2096We then ditched the car at Caolas and walked down to the beach that meets the Gunna Sound, as we were yet again in search of basking sharks… and the sound is known to be a hot spot for the sharks at this time of year.IMG_2100Our luck doesn’t seem to change with b sharks, so we were unsuccessful AGAIN. Even after sitting perched on a small rocky island between Coll and Tiree for an hour shark watching… or wave watching it turned out to be! IMG_7892IMG_2214So – in the afternoon we packed up the boards and drove back to west side of the island to our favourite free diving/snorkeling spot… this one is remaining unnamed im afraid since not many people seem to know about it… yet. Processed with VSCO with c7 presetThat evening we headed back to the festival, stalling to have some predrinks in the boot of our car… if that’s allowed? If not, this isn’t us… IMG_7639And that night we had tunes from Beinn Lee, Ho-RO and Trail West – among many many others. IMG_7659

Saturday

A wee bit hungover, so some animal therapy to cure the sore heads and a wander at a few beaches before a prolonged snooze in the car at Balevullin.IMG_7618_Facetune_13-07-2018-11-17-06IMG_7614IMG_7891IMG_7533IMG_8754SHOWERED and back in time for tunes from Rura and Skerryvore. S/O to Kirsty, Louisa, Rowen and Katherine for having us round to their house for bacon rolls and a shower – nothing like west coast hospitality! IMG_7746IMG_7727

Sunday

We drove down to Hynish for a wee swim and picnic before the madness of Sunday night began, and met a few bonnie coos on the way… IMG_7859IMG_8755…round three beginsIMG_7771_Facetune_15-07-2018-17-53-24IMG_7800Also, did I mention the food at TMF? What other festival serves champagne and oysters from Loch Fyne? SO GOOD!  IMG_8756And for our Sunday sesh we had tunes from, Elephant Sessions and Skipinnish. What an incredible final night. IMG_7179

It gets better every year, and whatever the weather… we will see you next summer!

Rona and Callum X

@ronamcmillan

@ahoycallum

 

 

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

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

Dear sports marketing, please ditch the f**king models

The women who become role models to us, and the women who SHOULD become role models to us are two very different people. Most of the time we don’t even notice – but how does this fair up for generations to come… the kids who are going to be thrown into the whirlwind of social media slapping them in the face with airbrushed images of celebrity models, photographed in clothing & equipment that should be promoting strong, healthy athletic women.  How come it’s a sexualised Roxy ad that sells me a bikini, or Kendall Jenner wearing Adidas that makes me buy new trainers? We talk about it all the time, using REAL women, doing REAL sports is good – it gets millions of views, it gets us inspired and excited – it wins awards. So WHY are we not seeing female athletes in advertising campaigns? Were they all too busy being awesome that day? Hmm.

What makes a good campaign great is the ability to tap into the minds of the viewer, something that makes me think – I am that girl, I could be that girl, I want to be that girl. I will stop being negative nancy for a second, because good advertising does exist. Ever heard of “This Girl Can”?

‘Are you up for breaking a sweat? Lottery-funded This Girl Can is designed to inspire you to sweat like a pig – and feel like a fox while you’re doing it.’

Not hot enough for sponsorship - Silvana Lima

S*** hot on a surf board, but not pretty enough for sponsorship? Are you kidding me? Silvana Lima is one of the best professional surfers in Brazil and she is being denied sponsorship for the way she looks.

“I’m not a babe. I’m a surfer, a professional one.”

And that, is what SHOULD inspire us. But athletes depend on sponsorship to an extent, it’s marketing, a pay cheque, a team and an opportunity to inspire worldwide. It’s seriously screwed that it’s only the ‘pretty’ girls that get this chance.

Silvana-Lima

Silvana Lima – WSL

Women to follow

The Kardashians and the Hadid sisters are long gone from my instagram feed – for a short while I got sucked into their parallel universe of ‘perfection’ – I kept up with Bella and Gigi for fashion and style inspo, and lets face it – the Kardashians can be entertaining. But why do these girls become the face of brands promoting sports that they have probably never done before. It kind of shakes me up the wrong way – so here are some girls with real talent, doing great things, living interesting lifestyles. Hopefully one day these women will be the ones we see all the time, on social media, in interviews, wearing our favourite brands and being themselves.

Tyler Wright

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Tyler Wright is the reigning two-time World Champion, she’s talent and strength. She’s intelligent and knows exactly who she is and what she’s doing.

“I’m comfortable, very confident, and it reflects in a powerful manner. Just the way I hold myself in certain situations – it comes from knowing myself, and that’s what’s reflected. It translates into a confident, powerful, strong style of surfing.”

Her journey from day one is pretty impressive. The Wright family is also a team of people who I really admire. Check it out…

Kimi Werner

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“Never take more than you need”

Kimi featured in Fishpeople, a film about people’s lives transformed by the sea. This is where I first came across her, and I was immediately hooked. Excuse the pun. She won the US National Spearfishing Championship, she was the best! But this sport was not in keeping with her beliefs; she left it behind to concentrate on sustainable hunting and marine conservation. Spending incredible amounts of time underwater on one breath, Kimi’s skills as a free diver and spearfisher is further proof that humans are completely capable of living in a way that is unharmful to our ecosystem.

Angie Payne

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Climber, photographer, explorer. I was introduced to Angie Payne in the film ‘Poumaka.’ She was climbing one of the world’s gnarliest towers: a 1,500-foot volcanic spire called Poumaka alongside Mike Libecki (who is one of my favourite people in the whole entire world). Angie seeks adventure, she’s out there doing amazing things and not really shouting about it. She talks about her expeditions truthfully, it’s not all sunsets and summits – and we really get to see the blood, sweat, anger and tears that push her boundaries each and every time she climbs.

 

Thanks for reading

R x