2 Inspirational Travel Films You Must See

Before Midnight Still - Borrowed from nymag.com

I watch a lot of films. I think telling stories on screen is one of the most engaging, astounding and beautiful ways to learn about something or find inspiration or experience the feeling of being understood. If it’s done well, of course. I can’t say I was that blown away by the legendary mess that is 2003′s The Room – a film so dire you can’t even seem to buy it on Amazon anymore, new or secondhand.

Over the course of last weekend, when I came back from Italy with what’s officially referred to as the Italian lurgy (or should that be lergy?), I took the opportunity to indulge in some film-watching.

Before Midnight (Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy)

There are very few characters created in any art form that compel fans to follow them for eighteen years. In this instance, I don’t mean eighteen years in the space of one two-hour movie either; I mean eighteen long real-time years between when you meet the characters and their story concludes. That’s quite a feat for any actor, actress, writer or direct to add to their CV.

The ‘Before’ trilogy follows Celine and Jesse, a young couple who meet on a train in 1995. Romance blossoms and they spend a night walking around Vienna together, believing this will be their only encounter. Nine years later, Jesse has written a book about their night together and Celine appears at his Paris book-signing. They spend the day walking around Paris and talking – the film ends with Jesse sitting in Celine’s apartment, about to miss his plane back to the US.

Fast forward nine more years to the present day, and Before Midnight concludes the eighteen-year tale of true love. The third and final instalment in the trilogy, like the other two films, is exceptionally well-written and boasts incredibly acting from both Delpy and Hawke. With more of a bittersweet message than the previous two stories, Celine and Jesse are having some relationship issues in a film that tells us love isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t diminish it.

Click here for more info or to buy a copy of ‘Before Midnight’.

Weekend (Tom Cullen, Chris New)

Friends had mentioned Weekend to me, but it took me a long old time to finally sit down and watch it. Boy, am I glad that I did. This beautifully-crafted modern love story is British independent film at its very best. Two guys living in Nottingham, England meet at a nightclub and spend a weekend together, talking about life and falling in love. It’s a simple premise, but executed perfectly. You wouldn’t even know it was created on a low budget. The characters are incredible and it’s not a surprise to learn it picked up much critical acclaim at the film festivals when it was released.

As well as using Nottingham as a gorgeous backdrop to the story, there’s a travel element to the story which will be familiar to anyone who’s ever fallen in love quickly before they’re meant to leave a place.

Click here for more info or to buy a copy of ‘Weekend’.


Om Nom Nom: Liberation Nuts

Socially conscious and forward-thinking company Liberation Foods launched a new range of nuts last month. Fairtrade and farmer-owned, Liberation Nuts are aptly named and absolutely delicious.

True to the ethos of the company, all nuts are sourced from co-operatives of small-scale growers and farmers, all of whom own a 44% share of the company. Peanuts travel from Nicaragua and Malawi while the cashews journey from India, and every step of the process is committed to all things fairtrade.

Available in two scrummy concoctions, you can now get your hands on 100g bags of Oven Baked Chilli & Lime Cashews with Peanuts & Roasted Corn or the simpler but still crunchy and delicious Oven Baked Salted Cashews & Peanuts.

Grab yourself a packet from Waitrose now for just £1.49. More info on Liberation here.

Juan Antonio Poncé from Bodegas Poncé – A Spanish Winemaker That Loves the Earth

Mention the Bobal grape variety and you might be met with a few blank stares, or even some raised eyebrows from the few who are familiar with it. But for one young Spanish winemaker, this grape has spurred on a passion for achieving the very best expression of his local region, DO Manchuela. Situated east of Valencia and west of La Mancha, you’d be forgiven for not being entirely familiar with its wines – awarded a separate classification in 2000, its producers wanted to differentiate the area from the bulk-wine reputation of its larger neighbours and establish a name for quality production.

Continuing this quest for quality is Juan Antonio Poncé, who founded Bodegas Poncé in 2005 when he was just twenty-three years old. After studying at the Requena School of Viticulture and Oenology and undertaking several trips to France, he developed a keen interest in biodynamic and organic viticultural methods. Opinions about the science behind the more ‘spiritual’ biodynamic techniques may be divided, but many cannot argue with the results, with over 450 quality wine producers worldwide adopting them and winning plaudits for the fruits of their work.

As Ben Greene, online marketing manager and wine expert at Roberson Wine, says “biodynamics are general principles for farming in general yet, for some reason, wine producers (especially in France) are falling over themselves to label their wines biodynamic, while producers of other crops are not”.

The success of these producers has attracted controversy, with many citing that superior quality wines could be down to simply organic techniques and the skill of the winemaker, but for Poncé, these techniques are all about getting the very best expression of the terrior in his wines – a flavour that reflects the unique combination of a particular soil, climate and grape variety.  His choice of the local Bobal grape to make red wines may well be surprising, but its characteristics are perfectly matched with the moderate climate and the lime-enriched clay soil of Manchuela.


Although not considered to be a ‘quality’ variety, Poncé has succeeded in producing wines with sweet fruit notes and savoury, light tannins that maintain their acidity. His methods respect the vineyard as the primary asset and the most important factor in determining his production techniques – adopting biodynamic methods that treat the plots as cohesive, interconnected living systems, and undertaking wild yeast fermentation of whole bunches before having them foot-trodden in small wooden vats, all contribute to wines that have the expression of their locality at their very heart.

Prior to setting up Bodegas Poncé with his father, Juan Antonio was the Vineyard Manager for Telmo Rodriguez, a position that involved learning about regional diversity, working in thirteen quality in regions including Rioja, Toro and La Mancha and learning what makes each of these unique regions tick. His combined experience has led him to describe himself more as a viticulturalist than a winemaker – respecting each different vineyard and basing his techniques on their characteristics is key to his winemaking philosophy.

Whatever your opinion on the merits of biodynamic and organic methods, it can’t be denied that they are being used to great effect in Manchuela. Producing wines of this quality from an almost unknown grape takes drive, determination and an in-depth understanding of the vineyards involved, something that Juan Antonio Poncé has in abundance.

3 Easy Steps To Improve Your Kitchen Karma

The kitchen is the heart of any home, even if you live alone. The day begins here with a cup of coffee, and ends here with a glass of water to take to bed. Throughout the day, it’s where cooking and eating takes place – usually alongside casual chats with friends, family or flatmates.

As lovely as an affinity with your kitchen is, when you spend a lot of time in a room, even if it’s beautifully decorated and adorned with precious treasures, that space can easily begin to seem mundane and stale. Here are three easy ways to rejuvenate your kitchen – on a mental and a physical level.

Credit: barockschloss / Flickr

Step 1: Reorder and Reorganise

The difficulty with kitchens is always their limitations in terms of movement. Furniture is often fixed into place, so a refresh of your surroundings can’t always include moving the staples of the space around as it might for other rooms.

Instead, try keeping things in different places – food, plates, cups, glasses, utensil pots, herbs and spices, and the kitchen bin can all be moved so your kitchen operates in a totally new way. The perfect refresh! Sometimes the smallest changes can be the most important.

Credit: camknows / Flickr

Step 2: Superior Equipment is Worth the Cost

If your kitchen equipment, work surfaces, cupboard fronts, stove and more are all hand-me-downs from parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends or kindly strangers, you do need to make some radical changes.

It doesn’t have to cost the earth, but investing in some superior kitchen equipment really can make all the difference to the style and feel of the room. Particularly if you love all things food and cooking-related (like me!), a decent oven and hob are really important. Honestly – dinner parties will be improved no end with this important purchase!

Credit: vidalia_11 / Flickr

Step 3: Get the Paint Out

A lot of kitchen space is covered by appliances, cupboards and more. But the bits that aren’t covered by practical necessities should – no excuses – be painted in a vibrant, warm and inviting colour. This can give the whole room a delicious new atmosphere and make you feel like you’re working in a totally new space.

Even if you’re living in rented accommodation, landlords or letting agencies will often grant permission for you to paint walls, provided you either let them approve the colour or agree to repaint it a neutral colour when you move out.

Movement, Changes and Madness


It’s been a crazy few months of movement and changes and madness.

Since May, I’ve found myself in Morocco, Poland, Italy, France, Scotland, Wales and a few different places in England. Two more trips to go and I’ll be settling down for a little while.

The intense travelling from nation to nation has been an incredibly rewarding experience, but one of its few downsides has been having a lot less time to blog and share my adventures with you.

But times are a-changing now.

From the end of September onwards, I’ll be sticking around in Norwich for sometime while I pursue that startling and costly creation they call a Master of Arts. I’m looking forward to it.

I’ll also be scrapbooking some of my travels of the past few months here at Take on the Road, with recommendations, personal stories and lots of photos from around the world.

Until then, follow me on Instagram here if you’d like to see snaps from Italy and Bulgaria where I’ll be for these next few weeks. Take care for now, faithful readers.

Cosmetics: New Ranges from Sure


Sure are one of my favourite beauty brands – they always seem to have the right product for the right occasion, and news of something new from them hitting the shelves is always an exciting prospect. The latest is a double whammy, offering new options for both men and women.

Ladies, you’ll just love Sure Compressed, the latest range of eight unique and tailored fragrances ranging from infusions of fresh cut flowers to vanilla, apricot and jasmine.

Half the size of the brand’s regular deodorants, the 75ml aerosol fits perfectly into your gym bag, suitcase for holidays or tucked up inside your sleeping bag if you’re on your way to a music festival. As always with Sure, expect the Compressed range to keep you fresh and dry – this time, for up to 48 hours.


For the boys, check out Sure Men’s latest Special Edition range, celebrating the Lotus F1 Team – possibly one of the brand’s coolest ideas yet, and topical since we’re in the midst of the racing season just now.

The deodorant provides 48-hour long-lasting protection, whether you’re in a high adrenaline situation like Kimi Räikkönen or Romain Grosjean or simply cooking up a barbecue storm in your back garden.

Find out more about the Sure Compressed range here and more about the Sure Men Lotus F1 range here.

This Business of Cars

ellen escapades

My dad works in the motoring industry. Since I was very young, I’ve had an awareness and appreciation of cars because of his influence. A summer Sunday without the sound of F1 booming in the background is an unnatural concept. The idea of not having a car in our family is and has historically been completely unheard of.

When I turned 17, Daddy Razavi’s first priority was finding the perfect vehicle for me. My first car – a silver Ford KA – was a beauty, her attractiveness amplified by the enormous bow my parents attached to her when they introduced us.

Anyway, we’ve gotten a bit off-topic here, and I can’t help but feel there should be a violin spinning a tune by this point in the story…

My dad is both a business owner and a car enthusiast. For that reason, he’s quite the expert on getting the best deal when looking for a new car, advising others and looking at situations in terms of their finance. He explained a totally new concept to me recently, and I wanted to share his expertise.

Before dad and I got chatting wheels and steering wheels, I was under the impression you either bought a car or rented a car. Buying a car was a longterm decision and renting a car was something you did for a weekend’s trek to Brighton.

The concept of car leasing is one that hadn’t entered my brain pan before, but it’s a really great idea. There are loads of good options whether you’re an individual, a small business or a bigger business looking to cut costs. Particularly good with vehicle leasing options for new businesses are Leasing4Business, who have a great range of offers on at the moment.

Leasing a car basically works like buying a car, unless you routinely buy your cars outright… in which case it probably isn’t the best option for you. You leave a vehicle, ideally for two or three years, and make payments on it for that period of time.

But at the end of the lease contract, there’s no need to arrange selling off or trading in the car – you simply pick your next one and continue with a new lease. Buying cars on finance can be a real hassle if you’re wanting to upgrade every few years so that the vehicle keeps value. This is the kind of situation that can make leasing an ideal option.

To find out more about leasing cars and other vehicles, visit http://leasing4business.co.uk/.

Image above courtesy of Ellen from Ellen and the Escapades (via Instagram).

Men’s Beauty Special: Lynx Deep Space

A divergence away from the confines of our regular features and topics today brings us to the following: a wholehearted recommendation for our male readers!

Lynx is a historic brand and undeniably a market leader in men’s beauty. Impressively, the Lynx family is celebrating a formidable 18 years of its Africa range this year, clearly demonstrating how timeless and delectable their products are.

The Apollo range is Lynx’s latest offering, with new blend Deep Space now available to purchase.

Anyway, Daddy Razavi has been extremely happy testing out the Lynx Deep Space range, and assures me it’s absolutely top notch. Good job, because the latest – and best smelling – Lynx products always make their way into his bag of birthday presents or Christmas stocking.

Amazingly, in the time it’s taken to write this post, I’ve seen the TV advert for Apollo three times. You can watch it yourself below – I love how it captures the theme of the new range.

Lynx Deep Space Shower Gel (RRP £2.54) and Lynx Deep Space 150ml Body Spray (RRP £2.99) are available from retailers nationwide. Find out more about the Lynx Apollo range here.

How To Start Your Own Business

When I was 17 years old, I started my first business – and it was a complete accident. After a series of work placements and jobs in politics, journalism, charity campaigns, PR and the arts, I had a considerable CV, a range of contacts dotted around different industries, and, mostly importantly, lots of ideas. I started to promote a friend’s music, and before I knew it, I had launched my own music PR and marketing start-up with new clients getting in touch every day.

It was a modest start and the business remained small until it become just one string in my bow of different activities, but it taught me a lot. The most important lesson I learnt was this: anyone can start a business, all it takes is knowledge and confidence. If you’re thinking about trying your hand at a business project, read on below.

Gain experience in anything and everything
Whether it’s a part-time job in retail or catering, or the perfect internship or work placement in your dream profession, the key to success as a businessperson and to progressing your own company is experience. Experience provides you with the knowledge necessary to make decisions and reassure clients that you’re the right person for the job. Relevant experience is really important, but ultimately, every experience adds something to your viewpoint and level of expertise.

It’s all about the contacts
Contacts are extremely important. When I started out in music, I didn’t think I had any, but actually I’d done a bit of music blogging and knew people at some of the venues local to me. It was an extremely humble start, but it was, nonetheless, a start. Beyond this, I built up contacts myself by sending emails, making phone calls and going to the right kind of events and introducing myself to people. It takes perseverance but it’s an incredibly important component of building your business.

Seek business advice from the experts
When you first start out, you’re unlikely to know all the ins and outs of business and finance, which is when expert advice comes in very handy. Some of the most important people who’ll help you out in the early and later stages of starting a company include your bank manager, lawyer, accountant and any mentors/advisors you might have available to you. Don’t only use them to bounce ideas off of or ask advice from – also let them educate you to increase your business knowhow.

Be passionate, and trust your instincts
The most significant element of success in any aspect of life or work is to be passionate about what you’re doing, and to trust your instincts. If you pursue something and your heart’s not in it, or you don’t have the conviction to trust your gut when it’s speaking to you, carving your own path will be much harder. It takes self-belief and desire!

Instagram Diary: Teaching in Liguria, Italy

I’ve spent the last three weeks teaching in Liguria, Italy. The first two weeks were spent in a town called Savona and now I’m half-way through a two week stay in a smaller town called Cogoleto. Here’s a brief Instagram diary from the last few weeks…

The teaching team in Savona

Rosie and I with some of the students at breaktime

The beach in Savona

The first of many spritz after our first day of teaching

A freshly painted mural on the wall outside our school in Cogoleto

Balcony view from our trip to Santa Margherita this weekend

That’s it for now, but I’ll have time for more posts about the past few weeks soon I hope…including, of course, photos and descriptions of some seriously amazing food.

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