Santorini: Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni

Santorini is the remnant of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history, which is why it has all those dramatic solidified lava cliffs - the volcanic caldera. The Minoan eruption was so big that it reportedly caused global temperatures to increase, and you can actually go to Akrotiri on mainland Santorini to see the remains of an ancient Minoan settlement. (Don't worry, they think that the Minoans managed to escape in time.)

If you want to look a closer look at the cause of all this destruction, take a boat to visit Nea Kameni - the volcano island - and then take a dip in the hot springs by neighbouring Palea Kameni.

Tours run twice a day in high season, and they don't need to be booked that far in advance. We paid €18 each at an excursion office in Firostefani to take a trip across to the volcano island the next afternoon. (We also had to pay an additional €2 once on the island.) Wear comfortable shoes, grab a bottle of water and slap on some sunscreen and you'll be good to explore.

The volcano is very much still active so you will spy steam coming up from the crater when you're exploring though, of course, a strict eye is kept on volcanic activity. An eruption last occurred in 1950.

From Nea Kameni you are treated to beautiful views of mainland Santorini, as well as Thirasía, the other inhabited island in Santorini, and Palea Kameni. (Santorini is an archiplegao which consists of Santorini (or Thira as it's officially known), Thirasía, Nea Kameni, Palea Kameni, plus another uninhabited island: Aspronisi.

The white buildings on top of the volcanic caldera on the mainland could almost be mistaken for snow-covered mountains! Oia is to the left of the picture, whilst you can see the village of Imerovigli to the right.

We spent roughly 90 minutes exploring on the volcano island before the boat took us round to Palea Kameni, which is where you'll find the hot springs. We were told that the sea would be about 30-35°C - it certainly felt warmer than normal sea temperatures, but not *that* hot in the bit where we were swimming. Be warned, if you're wearing light swimwear, you will get sulphur stains on them.

Definitely do spend a morning or afternoon exploring the volcano island if you're visiting Santorini - it's a bit of a climb to get to the top, made more noticeable with the heat, but it's worth it for the views and to say you've climbed an active volcano! x

Kindle Unlimited: The ten best books to borrow

When I last looked, there were over 1 million books to borrow via Kindle Unlimited - I reviewed KU back in April here - which is a *lot* of scrolling to pick which books you want to read.

So, here are my top ten recommendations to help you get started if you're new to Kindle Unlimited (in no particular order) - do let me know your Kindle Unlimited favourites in the comments.

Happy reading!

Have you read any of these?

PS: You can also borrow Geli Voyante's Hot or Not and the Arielle Lockley series via Kindle Unlimited. Go, go, go!

Santorini snapshots

We've just got back from the beautiful Greek island of Santorini where we've spent the past ten days relaxing by our private pool, devouring books and yummy food, as well as exploring a bit of the island. I'll be blogging all about our time there over the next few weeks, but here's a few snapshots of what we got up to. Have you visited Santorini? x

Reading and sunbathing by our private pool. Admiring the blue-domed churches of Santorini.

Eating delicious souvlaki. Drinking Yellow Donkey.

Watching the sun go down from the top of Firostefani's caldera. Setting sail for Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni. 

Exploring the active volcano. Volcano selfie at the top.

Wine tasting at the Artemis Karamolegos Winery. Watching the sunset in Oia.

The month that was: August

What happened:
August started with being evacuated from The Shard and having to walk down from the 32nd floor of the building - thank goodness we weren't all the way at the top on the observation deck! We'd gone to the Aqua Shard for dinner and had just ordered when the fire alarm sounded and we had to leave. To be honest, we weren't impressed in the short time that we were there so we didn't stick around for the 2.5 hour wait to get back inside.

The following weekend we headed to Stratford to the Lee Valley Velopark as Olly (and the men in his family) had a date at the velodrome, which was fun to watch. You don't realise how steep the sides of a velodrome are, but they are, and I'm glad that I was watching from the sidelines instead of participating!

I had a lazy long weekend by myself (and with Comps, of course) whilst Olly was in Belgium at the Grand Prix, which I spent writing and making espadrilles. Yes, you read that right! I made a pair of espadrilles using some The Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric, and you can find out how I made them here. (Found is still on track to be out later this year.)

Finally, I had a signature facial at Liz Earle - see what I made to it here - before heading to Kent for a family wedding. I can't believe that's another month that's gone and we're now in September!

What I ate:
Because of the aforementioned evacuation, instead of eating at Aqua Shard we ended up going to Roast for dinner - I last ate there about five years ago, but the standard has remained the same. If you want generous portion sizes with beautiful British flavours, do book a table there.

The service can be quite hit and miss at Wahaca, though they'll always tempt me back because I absolutely love their pork pibil tacos. We headed there for lunch at their Westfield Stratford branch after our visit to the velodrome, and the pork pibil tacos did not disappoint. (But, then again, they never do!)

However, I did have a disappointing lunch at Big Easy in Covent Garden. The service was dreadful, and they kept getting our orders wrong - a real shame as I've eaten there before and enjoyed it, but I'm not sure if I would return now. I hate it when that happens!

What I watched:
I implore you to watch Paddington as soon as you can as it's an utter delight and an awesome feel-good film - it's definitely my favourite film that I watched in August.

I also watched: Insurgent, The Breakfast Club, Almost Famous, Gone Girl (and then had to reread the book), Pompeii and Delivery Man, plus I rewatched Shrek, The Baby-Sitters Club (yes, *that* BSC!), Interstellar, Warm Bodies, Richie RichDeep Impact and Inception.

What I read:
In August I read 27 books and abandoned reading 7 books. I really enjoyed The Longest Holiday by Paige Toon, The Story of You by Katy Regan, Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella, Somewhere Only We Know by Erin Lawless, The Good Girls by Sara Shepard, Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover and rereading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

How was your August? x

Beauty: Liz Earle signature facial

Last week I headed to Liz Earle's London store to have their signature facial, which was a late birthday present. I already use quite a lot of Liz Earle products and had heard good things about the facial, so I couldn't wait to have it, especially as I was going to a wedding the next day.

The signature facial is a whopping 90 minutes long, and this also includes a neck and shoulder massage, plus a choice of more shoulder work, a scalp massage, or a foot massage. Most of the time is taken up on your face though, and the time flies by quickly. (Or it did for me.)

After chatting for five minutes about my skin - and feeling smug because she didn't think I looked my age - I got undressed and snuggled down under a duvet. I took a few deep breaths of one of Liz Earle's gorgeous oils, before my therapist explained about the machines that she was going to be using.

After cleansing my face with the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish in the jasmine and osmanthus scent - such a gorgeous smell - and treating my eyes, my face was exfoliated and then my arms were massaged and cocooned back under the duvet. (I'm going to get the order a little wrong, no doubt, as I was trying to relax but at the same time take secret mental notes so I could write this review!) If I remember rightly, balm was put on my face at the same time as my arm massage, and a steamer was angled over my face ready for extraction.

The therapist then covered my eyes and shone a bright magnifying light over my face so she could have a proper look at my skin - I was very pleased to hear that I have really clear, plump and radiant skin and that, unusually for a Londoner, I don't have excessive blockages. Apparently most Londoners have really congested faces because of the grime and what not, but all I had was a tiny blockage at the side of my nose and congestion on my cheeks which she thought was down to product build-up. She recommended switching to a lighter moisturiser and massaging my skin at least once a week during my evening skincare routine.

The one bad thing about my skin that she did point out was that I had a little dehydration on my forehead, and even though I do drink between one and two litres of water every day, she recommenced that I drink more(!) and that I consider drinking coconut water, too.

Congestions dealt with - it was painful at times, but it was a fleeting and tolerable pain - my face was treated with a high frequency bacterial machine and then a vacuum suction system. This was also used over my chest and neck, which treats the lymphatic system and all adds up to wonderful-looking skin. My shoulders and neck were massaged whilst I had a treatment on my face - I lost track about this time what was happening, but everything that went on my face smelled heavenly - and then whilst I had a combination of face masks on my face (three different ones for different areas), I had an extra shoulder massage.

One thing I will say about the extra massages is that the focus is the facial so don't expect a really deep and long shoulder massage, for example. I don't want to say that they are a time filler, but they sort of are - think of them as a bonus rather than a massage, and if you want a massage, book a massage! My face, of course, was massaged really well.

To end with my skin was moisturised with Liz Earle's Superskin serum, moisturiser and eyecream, and that was that! The signature facial costs £120 for 90 minutes, plus I was given a travel-size light moisturiser, toner and shampoo (which would cost about £20 to buy) and a card detailing recommendations from my facial. I left with super soft glowing skin, and I'll definitely return to Liz Earle for another facial, though I'll probably try their healthy beautiful skin facial next time.

Are you a fan of Liz Earle? x


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