This week’s guest post comes from Bex, blogger behind Olive Dragonfly. Bex is mum to adorable boy/girl twins, Kalyan & Priya and lives in the beautiful Sussex countryside with her very patient husband, Nik. She’s a little obsessed with photography, necklaces and her twins but has many other varied interests too and loves to write about them all and share cool places she discovers.
1. What is your name and where do you come from?
Hi! I’m Bex Maini and I grew up in Fife, Scotland. I moved around a little after leaving University in Dundee, also living in Edinburgh and Glasgow before moving down to East Sussex to where we are now, in a small village outside Uckfield when I was 6 months pregnant with our twins in 2014.
2. What sort of traveller are you? Full time / part time / business / backpacker etc?
I’m very much a holiday traveller now but I love to see the real local places not just resorts. I did my stint of backpacking one summer as part of my degree and loved it, 7 weeks travelling around Australia, working with the RFDS (Royal Flying Doctor Service) and working in Tonga for 3 weeks. Since starting real work, travelling has been whenever I could afford it and take the time off but my husband and I have managed to fit in a few amazing trips, even since the twins have come along. They’re only just 3 and have already been to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Malaysia and Scotland as well as some local Family Festivals.
3. How do you fund your travelling?
For my trip down under, my parents gave me a loan so I could really make the most of it while I was a student. Now my husband and I work hard to save up for trips as and when we can manage it. I have a day job as well as writing the blog and I’ve just started my own photography business, www.bexphoto.com mainly offering family sessions but also a little commercial photography for local businesses which also ties in nicely with reviews I do on my blog.
4. Where is the best place you have ever been and why?
It’s so hard to choose, Seoul in South Korea was an interesting one as it was so different to places we’d been before, we loved exploring such a huge city which was so different to our own and we loved spotting what we called “Korea Style”, their awesome crazy colourful fashion sense!
Our honeymoon in Africa was awesome, we had some chill out time on Zanzibar before heading in-land for some amazing safari experiences! SO many cool photos from that trip!!
I think I’d have to say my favourite is Australia/Tonga though, it was such a life-changing experience for me as I went alone at 22, determined to live it to the full. I bungee jumped in Cairns, sky dived, flew next to the pilot into the outback to treat patients in the middle of nowhere, snorkelled with Humpback Whales in Tonga, learned to surf at Byron Bay, drove a 4X4 over sand dunes on Fraser Island, learned to Scuba Dive and got my PADI certification on the Great Barrier Reef. It was pretty epic!
And I have to mention Malaysia and Italy both for the food! Oh and the Maldives for the amazing diving, Manta Rays are so beautiful!
5. Where is the worst place you have ever been and why?
Auckland, I was just bored. Everything I fancied doing was too far away as I had just 3 days there on my way to Tonga and I didn’t find much going on in the city. After such an amazing time on the East Coast of Australia, it was just dull.
6. Do you have a Bucket List? If so where are the 3 top places on it?
Thailand is still on it as, although I have now been, my horrendous morning sickness with the twins started on day 3 of our trip and I spent much of the holiday hiding in the hotel room and avoiding spicy foods (which I usually love!), living on dried cereal and baked potatoes. Sad times indeed!
I’d also love to see Japan, especially as I adore Sushi, and a few places in the USA are on there, New York at Christmas being top of the list but I’d love to go horse riding at a proper American ranch and San Francisco would be amazing! I’ve only done Florida and LA in typical touristy style – Disney and the likes so it would be good to see some more of America now that I’m older, with Disney still on the list for my little ones some day!
Oh and I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland and to see and photograph the Aurora Borealis as well as the amazing landscape there!
7. What 3 things (apart from the essentials – food/water etc) do you always travel with?
My camera, I’m a photographer too so I take literally thousands of photos on our trips (and at home!!) and would be lost without it! I even have one with a small housing to take underwater when we go diving too.
My Kindle, I love being able to take so many books away with me without having to worry about them fitting in my luggage!
My laptop – this list makes me sound very high-tech and gadgety! I only need my laptop in order to be able to download and save all of my many many photos! (And write a sneaky blog post or two in our down time!)
8. What makes you happy and why?
My babies and taking photos. Although it’s exhausting having toddler twins, they are so much fun and very photogenic! I hope we can raise them to love travelling like we do. I love that they like adventures and food, when we were in Malaysia, Kalyan (at almost 2 years old) polished off a whole dressed crab to himself, it was pretty spicy too and awesome to watch him devour it!
9. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
Seven years now. I started blogging about my wedding plans in 2011. My parents live abroad so it was a great way for my Mum to be a part of all the little projects I was doing. I loved it and after the wedding I started just writing about other things I love to do and soon incorporated holidays (starting with our honeymoon of course), recipes and reviews of places I loved in Glasgow as well as a bit of fashion and a few craft projects.
Now it’s very much about our family life in Sussex, still with recipes and reviews, a little bit of parenting, lots of cute twin photos and my new series, Toothy Tips since I came out on the blog as a dentist!
I’m in the process of building it up again after a bit of a hiatus with very occasional posts after the twins were born but I’ve learned and improved so much since I started, I hope it’s even better now than it ever was and I’m starting to include more of my other loves on the blog again, including some more travel posts. (I still haven’t posted about our trip to Malaysia last year, I was so exhausted when we got back!)
10. What makes your blog unique and why should people read it?
I think it’s so hard to be truly unique in the blogging world these days with so many blogs out there but I have always written my blog as if I am talking to a friend, which is basically how I see it. My writing shows my personality and I’ve received lovely feedback which confirms that I come across genuinely and with great enthusiasm (that’ll be all of my exclamation marks – I really do talk like that!) which I think makes a difference. I LOVE blogging, whether people read or not, it’s my outlet for my thoughts and bazillion photos!
I guess my photos make it unique to me too, I rarely use other photos (in my Christmas jumper round up I use photos from online stores) and prefer to use my own whether it be of a place or product or just one of many of the twins. My photography has improved so much over the years, I do think it makes a difference to my blog now, having good quality personal photos.
You should read my blog if, like me, you have many varied interests. I have so many hobbies and eclectic tastes so you’ll always find variety on there. I write about family life, food (both recipes and reviews), our home style and have a few guest writers with home makeovers too, crafts (with tutorials especially for #pinitdoit my Pinterest inspired challenge and linky), travel and local adventures, a bit of toddler fashion and teeth! I guess that makes my blog unique too – my Toothy Tips posts have been popular with my readers who have small children