Hannah Gregory heads to Glastonbury to visit a 17th century coaching in turned Middle Eastern modern eatery centred around local produce, traditional ingredients and a lot of love.

In the autumn of 2023, Chef Ayesha Kalaji burst onto our screens during her time on MasterChef Professionals with a palpable kindness and exuberance not often seen in that kitchen. In an environment which is usually awash with furrowed brows and pulsing head veins (believe me, I should know) her warmth and passion for the cuisine of her Jordanian heritage were infectious. Impossible to watch without smiling and championing her on from the sofa, I was desperate to try her food and see if what she put on a plate matched what she oozed on camera – joy, fun, effervescence and a knowledge that can only be gained from years of absorbing the know-how of house-hold kitchens, listening to cooks of the family pass down nuggets of wisdom about ingredients and cooking methods. A promise of food as rich in history as it is in flavour.

Location, location, location

A 17th century coaching in turned modern Middle Eastern restaurant, Queen of Cups is nestled in the heart of Glastonbury. Aptly named as both a nod to the restaurants mystical home, drenched in centuries of spirituality, white magic and bubbling energy from the famous ley lines coupled with the tarot card of the same title symbolosing feminine energy, emotional connection and compassion – all of which make up the ethos and heart of the restaurant.

The weekend we visited also happened to be the Frost Fayre, an annual community event to celebrate ‘peace and goodwill to all’ ahead of the festive period. There was something truly magical about winding through the bitterly cold streets of the town, stopping to take in carollers or grab a glass of mulled wine before taking refuge in shops heady with scents of natural oils and potions, knowing our final destination was Ayesha’s warm bosom (not literally). It was impossible to ignore this weird 21st century parallel we found ourselves in… two slightly wise women, following the star (google maps), the air heavy with scents of Frankincense and Myrrh, ambling towards the inn full of middle eastern promise – it truly was a modern-day Christmas tale.

Fortunately for us, there was room at the inn and as expected, we were welcomed in with open arms, the front of house team, either through osmosis or careful selection, exuding just as much charm as their proprietor. Guided through the restaurant, all feminine purple accents and curated artwork depicting various guises of feminine energy, the space is humble and unassuming.

The food

The menu is based around sharing plates all of which promise to be as gloriously colourful as chef herself. With a plethora of ingredients not often seen on this grey land, her team are on hand to guide you through the menu and answer questions effortlessly and enthusiastically.  Plates come as they come resulting in a table bursting with colour and smells, each dish begging to be paired with its neighbour – a swipe of the Frena bread in the watercress labneh here, a dunk of a Lebanese spiced potato in whipped Westcombe ricotta there. It is a truly unique and enjoyable eating experience that further cements the notion of bringing people together over great food.

Small plates to pave the way

We began our meal with nibbles of Teta’s (a colloquial Lebanese term for Grandmother and another nod to the importance of family recipes within this restaurant) pickles and Frena bread – a richer, fluffier cousin of the humble pitta. The pickles as sharp and pleasantly pink as you would hope. Not being the best of friends with gluten and not wanting to waste precious stomach real estate, I had every intention of bypassing the bread but when I saw pillowy cloud after pillowy cloud of it appear on the pass it was impossible to resist. With a good char from the hot coals, a lightness that made it looked like it was floating on its plinth and a sheen of butter glistening down it’s curves, I had to have it, gluten intolerance or not and my lord was it worth the bloat that followed that evening. A plate of Watercress labneh with roasted beetroot doused in pomegranate seeds, za’tar and pangrattato to accompany was a match made in heaven – using the bread to mop up every ounce of the thick, punchy labneh, creating perfect mouthfuls with its adornments like a child rifling through a jewellery box.

Mesmerising main dishes

From here we worked our way through the menu, as each plate landed on the table a gasp followed by an ‘oooh’ and an ‘aaaah’ reminiscent of children at a firework display. Hibachi grilled merguez sausages, the content of which is determined by the season were smokey and spicey, complimented by their bed of cooling yoghurt, the micro herbs and fresh lemon cutting through the richness. Grilled Nabulsi cheese (one of my favourite plates) served by the slab like an elevated saganaki situation, drenched in Persian black lime and honey that pools around it ensuring every bite is layered in flavour and complexity, the cheese covered in a blanket of preserved lemon and fresh oregano to cut through the fatty cheese. A larger plate of red miso and cardamom glazed hispi cabbage with a fiery veduja and butterbean puree, kalamata tapenade and yeasted buckwheat was a party of textures and flavour profiles. The standout dish for me however had to be the seven spiced Jerusalem artichokes with pickled foraged mushrooms, whipped westcombe ricotta, zoug and smoked almonds. A jumble of flavours that could easily get messy but were infact perfectly balanced, piles of deliciousness where every mouthful promises to be different. The zoug so loaded with garlic it smacks you around the face, crispy, spicy artichokes and vinegary mushrooms. A perfect example of east meets west and a demonstration of Ayesha’s championing of local growers and ingredients.

With waistbands straining more and more each second, we were about to throw in the towel when we thought what a waste it would be to leave plates still covered with sauces and goodness and so for thorough  mopping a last minute addition of Batata Harra (Lebanese spiced potatoes) were ordered – crispy on the outside soft and fluffy within, we made the right call and with that, the plates returned to the kitchen perfectly polished.

Our one regret was that we had not planned accordingly and so could not make the most of the very exciting dessert menu – dishes such as Tonka and Fig leaf mousseline with hazelnut brittle and Dark chocolate and Persian lime cremeaux called to us but we just couldn’t do it. Instead, we settled on black tahini and black cardamom ice cream with poached cherries, a light finisher to the afternoon and a continuation of bold flavour pairings that really work.

The food we ate was clearly a labour of love – the love could be tasted in every dish. Personality, warmth and emotion as tangible as the ingredients themselves.

Let’s hear it for the chef

Sitting opposite the pass and with full view of the kitchen, it became instantly apparent that Ayesha’s likability transcends the TV screen we had become accustomed to seeing her on.  Steering her ship from behind the pass, she can be felt and heard throughout the restaurant, leading her brigade to deliver plate after plate of delectable food with a kindness and encouragement that made we want to jump up and get involved with them. I felt as if (and I mean this with love and respect) I was in the presence of a chef, a matriarch, a land lady and a captain –  all booming voice, bountiful personality and bold as brass mannerisms.

The beauty of this establishment harks back to a core belief of mine, yes the bells and whistles of fine dining eateries and fancy pants restaurants are fun and impressive with all their slick lines and brushed steel but what it comes down to is the flavours on the plate and the passion of the chef. Food is about bringing people together, sharing history and culture, educating and inspiring people and Queen of Cups does this in spades.

There’s a good chance you’re aware of what the Dead Sea is and where it’s located, but for many people, that’s where their knowledge pretty much ends. The Dead Sea is actually something that can seem really exotic and mysterious to many, as there are so many facts that aren’t necessarily common knowledge. The Dead Sea is bordered by Jorden and Israel and holds all kinds of incredible facts, as well as some pretty amazing health benefits, which is a big part of why it’s such a huge tourist draw.

So, whether you’re planning a trip to the Dead Sea or you’d just like to learn more about it, here are five things that you may not know about the Dead Sea.

The Dead Sea Isn’t a Sea at All

Despite being called the Dead Sea, this body of water isn’t a sea at all. Instead, the Dead Sea is a saltwater lake. With that said, it is the deepest saltwater lake in the entire world. At its deepest, it is 1004 feet. It gets even more interesting if you measure the sea’s depth in relation to the planet’s sea level. When you take that into account, the water surface and shores are actually 1,401 feet below sea level.

The Dead Sea Is Extremely Salty

Many realize that the Dead Sea is salty, but did you know that it’s actually among the saltiest lakes on the entire planet? When measuring its salt content, it contains 33.7% salt. There are a small handful of lakes saltier though, with Don Juan Pont in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica being the saltiest at 44%.

You Won’t Find Life Forms in the Lake

Unlike many of the lakes on the earth’s surface, the Dead Sea doesn’t contain life. The problem is the salt level in the lake, which makes it too high for anything to live in there. From time to time during the rainy season, it can be possible that bacteria are able to grow, but that’s it.

It’s Not Your Average “Beach”

When you think of a sea or lake it’s common to also think about the beach or shoreline. This brings us to more interesting Dead Sea facts – the shoreline is actually covered in white crystals that are salt. It’s really quite a stunning sight to behold as it also captures and reflects the sunlight in the most beautiful way.

It Has Become a Big Destination for Health Tourism

Health tourism is still a relatively new branch of tourism, but the Dead Sea is one area that is extremely popular with health tourists. The salt is well known for its variety of health benefits, which can include helping to reduce dandruff, stress, pain, muscle aches, hives, psoriasis, acne, and more.

One of the Most Intriguing Lakes to Visit

If you’re looking for an exotic and truly spectacular place to visit on your next holiday, the Dead Sea is one of the most intriguing lakes, and locations, out there.

Originally from Panama, Lourdes Gaudiano came to Switzerland in 2006. What began as a hobby – making soaps and selling them at local markets, Family and friends – soon turned into a business. However, after selling her products for several years, she realized that Luxury was not associated with sustainability, and as someone who is really conscious about the environment she realized that she could make a positive impact bringing these two worlds together. Lourdes is the passionate and savvy woman behind the natural skincare brand Luly Gaudiano.

Here at House of Coco we really champion brands that care about the environment and we are truly behind the mission that Luly Gaudiano is on. We spent some time with her to find out more…

Tell us about the story that lead you launching the brand…

When I came to live in Switzerland, I was expecting to learn the language get a job and have a normal life, but nothing prepared me for the long journey I was going to have.

I live in the German part of Switzerland that means that the official language is German but on daily basis they speak Swiss German a dialect. I visited many German classes and still I couldn’t communicate properly it is like learning Italian in Panama.After 300+ applications I could only have a part time job for 6 months.that was very hard because I had finished a Master degree in a top university in Madrid and if you don’t have experience and do not speak the language you have no chance.

One day I was totally depressed at home and my husband told me you need to find a hobby. and that’s how we went to a handcraft shop and bought a book on how to make cold process soaps.

I started making tons of soaps but didn’t know what to do with them so again my husband suggested me to sell them in the local markets and I visited my first market about 9 years ago when I was 4 months old pregnant.

I sold to my family and friends in Panama, I visited many markets, I did natural cosmetic courses in France where I met my mentor, the one who told I should make a business out of it, but the real turning point was when I was in a Christmas market selling at -11 °.I’m from Panama, over there is around 29° year round and only two seasons, wet and dry. I questioned my entire existence for the time it lasted. I refuse to suffer again like that so After thinking how to do it, I contacted my mentor and told her let do this.I was supposed to do only bar soaps but again my circumstances where not the best, with a kid and my family one continent awayI didn’t have the support to produce them myself and at the same time taking care of a kid, that’s how we came to the idea of working with a professional lab who could do them for me.

I was too small for the labs here in Switzerland, so it took me around 2 + years and a shot of luck to find one that was willing to take my project. They didn’t produce soaps but offer me the possibility to make a line with the 3 products so I tweak my first idea and made the line with the 3 products that I’m selling now.

How I came with the Idea of sustainable luxury?

I have to start that saying that women in Panama likes to take care of their look, we do spend a ridiculous amount of time in the beauty salon but that doesn’t mean that we are superficial. we are hard workers educated, great friends mothers and looking good on the outside doesn’t mean were are weak, it’s a part of our culture and we really enjoy it.

On the other sideas a kid I was always worry about the environment and used to ask to my parents donations for saving the rain forest as birthday presents, so when I came to Switzerland I was fascinated on how they took care of the environment and how advance they are in the natural cosmetic world. I immediately started to switch to more clean swiss brands, I enjoyed recycling but I realize the more I was into this world how apart it was from the luxury industry, and I thought about myself,I like nice stuff and to take care of myself but I still care about the worlds problems and making a brand that stands for sustainability and luxury could bring more people to the green side without being judgmental.I’m not about pointing who is doing it wrong but more about building a brand that people doesn’t feel to give up their lifestyle in order to be more conscious about the environment.You can be both pretty on the inside as well as the outside. You can be an Iron woman with hearts of gold

How do you want people to feel when thy use your skin care products?

I wan them to feel ethical, knowing that the products they use are made with fairly source ingredients, no animal testing, clean energy and ingredients, minimum and recyclable packaging that allows them to close the circle.

What sets you apart from other beauty brands?

The concept of bringing Luxury and Sustainability together. Environmental problems affect all of us, it doesn’t matter if we’re rich or poor and bringing awareness to this group is key to fight it.

In 2020, what are your plans for the brand?

The most important is to make the brand financially stable to bring my 4th product to the market, although it has been a very bumpy road, I did enjoy developing the products.That means promoting the brand, hopefully participate in another expo and of course find more outlets to sell the products.

One of the reasons beauty brands fail is because they fail on marketing side.How do you spread the word about what do you do?

Today is everything about promoting our brands in social media contacting retailers sending samples pushing mails, yes that’s part of it, but we are failing to simply start spreading the word around us with our family and friends, that strangers at the party may work in an important retailer or have some connections. I asked people if they’re not interested, they can be a great help just liking my post on Instagram. Avoiding being too pushy is key for me and this mix has helped me to get the right exposure to participate in a few articles in an online magazine for Indi brands, my products will be show case in 3 editions from Vogue UK, I got a contact for an interview in my country a shout out from a influencer with 100+k followers for free, an interview with house of coco and a decent amount of orders.

For any aspiring entrepreneurs, what advice would you offer?

First take care of your health, specially your mental health it’s a tough ride.

Don’t get to emotionally attach to your project, you will get too many no’s if you get offended every time someone reject your project you won’t go too far.

Don’t worry too much about what other people are doing don waste your time on social media feeling sorry on what you haven’t achieve, if is upsetting you unfollow.

Be inspired by others don’t copy, every journey is different focus your energy on solving your challenges you will get plenty of them.

Work smarter not harder, get an agenda, keep a to do list prepare yourself the night before, etc.Keep clean and organize your working area put a plant make it welcoming to be there.

Don’t forget you still a human being, be kind to yourself. Your family and friends will love you no matter what.

And the most important, learn how and when to listen to your brain, heart and gut they are your biggest allies.

Enjoy the ride.

What are you doing to make your brand sustainable?

We are made with green energy, our ingredients are non-toxic, we use minimum packaging and recyclable , we don’t use samples sachets, talking with a producer hetold us that they are not recyclable and they put the recycling symbol because the clients ask for it and as it’s not regulated they do it.Every company that I work is in line with my belief, so they have sustainable practices in their own offices and of course I try to make sustainable decisions on everything I do on daily basis.

Why is this something that interest you?

Because I have seen how indifference have destroy fantastic places in my country.We have the most beautiful nature but we don’t take care of it, and that’s is recurrent in too many places, I see here in Switzerland that is possible develop into a first world country and taking care of your natural resources.

What does self-care mean to me?

For me self-care is so important, I need time to slow down disconnect from the daily stress and worry, when I take care of myself, I become a happier person a better mom.

Our readers love to travel, what is at the top of your bucket list?

Petra in Jordan!

Outside of work, what do you do to switch off?

I love to take a quick shower before going to bed and that’s how actually I came with the 3 products (I exfoliate twice a week) use the Luxury cream that leaves my skin super! Silky I wear a nice pyjama and perfume, burn essential oil, organize the house, my next day agenda and write on my diary listening to relaxing music.

I recently discover that baking help me to switch off, a good chat with a friend, and of course fool around with my kids if you understand your kids they can be a pretty cool gang to hang out specially if you play music.

Tell us your favourite quote to read when you lack creativity?

There must be a way!

The best place to find motivation is inside yourself.

Luly is a true inspiration, follow her for more updates

The sports world has long influenced fashion trends, shaping the biggest sportswear trends of each era. Items of clothing that started as functional accessories for sporting activities quickly became staple features in everyday wardrobes. The glamorization and aspirational quality of certain sports mean it’s now more than acceptable to don sports clothes at social events. Heading out for dinner straight after the gym? No worries. How about custom basketball jerseys for Friday night drinks? Fine. Brunch in yoga pants? Absolutely.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2018, it’s unlikely this will change. Happily, strong is still the new sexy; whether you call it Sports Luxe, Athleisure, or just a super comfy outfit, here are the most popular activewear looks.

Yoga: making leggings an all-year-round option

First, we had the 80-inspired leggings look — you know, the one where the leggings were mostly black, but all slightly too transparent — and, despite the trend becoming omnipresent for a while, it wasn’t working. However, thanks to the rise in popularity of Western-style yoga, and brands like Lululemon and Sweaty Betty producing yoga pants in a host of cute colours and patterns, leggings came back in a different guise. Crucially, because these yoga pants are first and foremost a functional item — to be worn during a yoga practice — the fabric is opaque enough to wear outside the yoga studio and stretchy enough to be worn all day without losing its shape.

If you seek confirmation that the yoga activewear look has firmly taken hold, just look in any breakfast or brunch establishment from Mile End to Hammersmith – there you’ll see it, groups of girls in yoga leggings, sipping Matcha lattes over superfoods. Whether or not they’ve been to a yoga class is somewhat irrelevant; the success of this clothing trend supersedes the sport itself, and instead largely symbolises the ‘Clean eating, Clean living’ macro trend that’s continuing to reign supreme.

Basketball: celebrity endorsements bring mass appeal

Looking back, it all started with Michael Jordan – arguably the most famous basketball player of our time and the first-ever billion-dollar athlete. While his skills got him to where he is now, good shoes sure helped. can help you get to where you need to be. Having a variety of shoes that can endure long-games and letting you be at the level you want while staying comfortable.–When Nike started selling sneakers for basketball sports in MJ’s name, he was blasted into the stratospheric level of fame. As such, people — basketball players or not — lusted after functional basketball sneakers, because they were associated with his name.

It is true, though, that certain product design features and assets will make one pair of basketball trainers functionally superior to another — whereas opting for one brand of yoga leggings over another won’t make you more able to Chaturanga or hold Trikonasana for any longer. Indeed, the Sport Consumer best basketball shoes reviews suggest players could jump over 3 inches higher with the right footwear!

The iconic Nike Jordan and Air Jordan have been mimicked by brands all over the world, and the shoe’s widespread appeal doesn’t show signs of slowing.

In a surprising move that bridges the worlds of basketball and fashion, the lakers austin reaves release exclusice rigorer shoes with This unexpected collaboration adds an exciting twist to the ongoing evolution of sportswear trends, turning functional footwear into a true fashion statement.

Running: wearable tech becomes an everyday accessory

Have you ever looked around on your commute, and clocked the amount of people who have switched analogue wristwatches for a fitness tracker? Spoiler alert: it’s a lot! Another nod to the mega trend that is Clean Living, the question “How many steps have you done?” is no longer without meaning to the vast majority: if asked, someone is clearly enquiring about your Fitbit, Garmin or other fitness tracker stats for the day. If smartwatches almost immediately acquired a “children’s” standard, with a telephone module and GPS, then fitness trackers lagged behind the trend for a long time. The first decent model of Fitbit for kids was introduced in 2018.

As such, the world of running has been hugely influential in fashion. So much so, that Fitbit offers a vast selection of different aesthetics and styles for trackers, including the Flex 2 which looks more like a gold bracelet than a functional sports accessory.

Cycling: here’s hoping the shorts don’t stick, but give us a bright cycling jersey any day!

Despite Kylie Jenner making her first post-baby public appearance in a pair of cycling shorts, there’s a lot more to this trend than spandex. Indeed, brands like Rapha have brought about a total rebirth of the colourful cycling jersey, and you’ll now find bike enthusiasts turning up to the office keenly wearing their cycling jackets.

As with other trends, the popularity of cycling clothing is closely tied to other lifestyle movements: namely, the desirability of vintage and the aspiration to be more environmentally friendly. Indeed, many commuters have traded the tube to whizz through bicycle lanes and are proud to be part of a resurgence of cycling culture. Wisely, Rapha uses hints of retro 60s and 70s styling in its products.

CrossFit: the community workout creates a new tribe of sportspeople

Comparatively a new sport trend, CrossFit has made pretty big waves. Backed by a number of early adopters when it first launched, the sport has a strong, dedicated community. Furthermore, the competitive element — where CrossFit-affiliated gyms compete against each other — encourages tight alliances between individuals and a powerful team spirit. As such, CrossFit fanatics associate themselves with the brand of their chosen gym: something we may see become more significant in CrossFit activewear design.

For the time being, Reebok seems to have monopolised the CrossFit trend, opening specialist training centres and sportswear stores in its name.

Tennis: a timeless trend

We can’t discuss sportswear trends without speaking of tennis. Whether it’s the Wimbledon effect, big ticket sponsorship deals, or the stardom of the sport’s key players, there’s something undeniably glamorous about what players turn up to Centre Court wearing.

Even off the court, Tennis shoes are ubiquitous during the summer months, with brands like Adidas, Keds, Diadora and Lacoste all offering their unique spin on the style. Tennis trainers have firmly made the transition from functional footwear to a fashion statement.

Discover the latest trends and innovations in sportswear with our in-depth review of three standout collections on House of Coco. From cutting-edge fabrics to sleek designs, these brands are revolutionizing activewear. Click here to explore the article and find your next gym wardrobe staple!

Why sportswear will continue to be fashionable

With sports intrinsically linked to other values and aspirations — be it lifestyle choices or others — it’s safe to say that athleisure will continue to be an important fashion trend. What’s unclear right now though, is which trends will continue to flourish in coming years. Will we look back at yoga leggings with dismay? Will fitness trackers be put away in cupboards, to beep and beep as they lose battery, overlooked for the next wearables trend? Only time will tell.

Cruise ships just get better and better, and for some, being on the boat is the best part of a cruise holiday. With fantastic facilities on board, passengers can relax after a day of sightseeing and be taken care of in a luxurious setting. This is making them more adventurous in terms of cruise destinations – let’s not overlook the impact that visiting a new country can have.

Sea, sun and sand have long been a staple of cruising holidays, but retailers such as now offer trips to a host of amazing destinations for 2019. Here are some of the highlights:


A country steeped in mystery and history, Jordan is becoming a bucket-list destination for many cruisers, especially those who want to fully immerse themselves in a different culture.

Cruises dock at Aqaba, offering quick-and-easy access to a host of archaeologically significant sights, as well as a museum, fort and always-fragrant market. For those who like to stay active, the snorkelling and diving opportunities here are spectacular, but a few hours of floating in the Dead Sea is just as fun. A truly unique combination of desert landscapes, bustling cities, ancient history and modern luxury make Jordan a once-in-a-lifetime holiday destination.

St Petersburg

Perhaps not the first destination people think of when planning their ultimate cruise, St Petersburg is something of an untapped gem found in the Baltic region.

Cosmopolitan and surprising, with some of the world’s most ornate architecture, the city takes you from one amazing building to another with an underlying sense of spirituality. There’s also a heady cultural scene, with world-famous ballet regularly performed and the Hermitage museum showcasing millions of works of art. You may not get to lounge on a beach here, but adding a few extra layers will definitely be worth it.


If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting a multicultural country that seems to have been left untouched by globalisation, Cuba is the cruise destination for you. Thanks to a vivid atmosphere, natural delectation for excitement and some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, it’s a country that satiates the desires of travellers.

Alongside colourful Havana, a capital city with a fresh and fun carefree spirit, there are numerous enticing beaches, as well as nature reserves and hikes to explore. From Mojito cocktails in the city to quiet lakes surrounded by trees, every experience you could ever dream of can be enjoyed here.


Imagine being able to visit a destination that encompasses multiple influences, a huge variety of cuisines and multiple landscapes to enjoy. Well, Malaysia boasts all of these and more thanks to being one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world.

Asia has long been a cruise destination for discerning travellers, but Malaysia specifically is now enjoying a surge in popularity thanks to the sheer volume of things to see and do. With influences pouring in from China, Europe and India, food-and-drink options are just as diverse as the landscape itself, which lets you choose between ultra-modern cityscapes such as Kuala Lumpur and rural utopias.


More and more people are waking up to the potential of holiday destinations that focus less on sweltering temperatures and sandy beaches and more on unique experiences. Iceland is fast becoming a country that many cruisers are keen to see and not just because they want to test their mettle and try some of the more unusual local foods.

Reykjavik is a terrifically cosmopolitan city, filled with art galleries, boutique shops and incredible eateries, but it’s also the thermal baths and opportunity to see the Northern Lights that keep people coming back for more.


Hardly a new addition to holidaymakers’ lists, Egypt is an incredible destination that was not frequently reached by cruise ship – until now. The possibility has been in place for a while, but keen cruisers are now alert to what the voyage can offer them in terms of spectacular sightseeing.

Before reaching the famous home of the pyramids and deserts that are ideal for dune-buggy excursions, passengers can enjoy sailing leisurely through the Red Sea, Suez Canal and even along the Nile. Given the balmy temperatures in this part of the world, it’s a perfect choice for some winter sun, and you haven’t lived until you sample the food, much of which is suitable for vegetarians.

While warm and sunny destinations have been popular with cruisers for many years, it’s the time for cultural hotspots to rise up and enjoy a turn in the limelight. There’s never been a better time either, as cruise ships are so well equipped these days that even if a destination is lacking a certain something, you’ll be sure to find it on board.

We usually spend a lot of time and money on our hair color, and the last thing we want is to see it wash away down the drain. Whether you’re a brunette, a blond, a red-haired vixen, or beyond, using a specialized color-safe shampoo is essential for keeping your color vibrant and fresh.

In their essence, shampoos clean oil and dirt from your hair and scalp. Color-preserving formulas work on the same principle, but they also minimize the amount of color you wash away every time you use them. They have a significantly lower concentration of cleansing surfactants compared to regular products. Color-protecting shampoos also use conditioning agents that create a coat over the surface of your hair to lock in the color molecules and stop them from escaping. Not only do they help you keep your color vibrant for a long time, but they also nourish your hair and help mask any damage that may have appeared. Your strands will be softer and smoother, and you will feel the difference between using a specialized and regular product.

The frequency of washing your colored hair also plays a vital role in preserving the shade. Each hair type requires specific products as well as particular product application. For example, if you wonder how often should you wash oily hair, you should only look for advice and products for oily hair types. The same goes for colored hair – if you want the best results, use products created for preserving color.

Let’s go through the most effective shampoos for colored hair!

Keratin Smooth Color by Tresemmé

Tresemmé developed a shampoo and conditioner combination that quickly became a consumer tester favorite. It also quickly gained popularity among users for its quick and apparent results. The formulas are rich and creamy, just like those in premium salon-quality products even though they are quite affordable. At a bargain price, you’ll protect your shade and get salon-like effects with silky, shiny hair and vibrant, rich color.

Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance

Color processing damages your hair’s bonds. Olaplex No.4 is a sulfate-free shampoo that rebuilds the bonds and gradually transforms brittle hair into a healthy state. Many salon owners swear by it and call it a game-changer because it gives incredible results and eliminates frizz. The product will hydrate, repair, restore, and add a healthy shine to your hair. Although initially aimed at bleached hair, specialists agree that Olaplex No.4 benefits all hair types. It’s incredibly nourishing for hair damaged by chemical processes, coloring included. Those who love fresh, vivid colors such as purple, pink, or turquoise also love this product because it helps protect their hue and nourishes their strands.

Rahua Color Full

If you’re a blond, you know all about the hair’s tendency to turn yellow or even orange in between color treatments. To prevent brassiness, Thompson’s Rahua Color Full shampoo deposits rich violet color into blond hair cuticles. You’ve probably heard of purple shampoos before, but this product is next level. It has a plant-based, chemical-free formula enriched with coconut oil that gives your hair a healthy, shiny coat that protects the hair and your pretty blonde shade. It’s incredibly gentle for the hair and a No.1 choice for many blondes.

Nexxus Color Assure Shampoo and Conditioner

Can you imagine washing your hair 40 times and still seeing the same vibrant, rich color you had when you started? It may seem like a long stretch, but that is what the combination of Nexxus Color Assure Shampoo and Conditioner promises. The formulas focus on quinoa and elastin protein, a combination known to help the hue and vividness of your color last longer.

Dead Sea Minerals + Vitamin B5

The hydrating formula of Ayam’s Dead Sea Minerals + Vitamin B5 shampoo profoundly cleanses the cuticles and helps preserve your color by revitalizing the follicles. It restores moisture to dried, colored hair and adds a healthy shine that will make your color pop. It cleans, nourishes, and restores your hair, making it perfect for colored, damaged, or thinning hair. If you pair it with the conditioner from the same line, you’ll get excellent results.

Shu Uemura Color Lustre Brilliant Glaze

Your color can’t look good unless your hair is shiny. The shinier the hair, the better any hue will look. Shu Uemura Color Lustre Brilliant Glaze contains precious goji berry extract, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect your hair against fading. It adds an extravagant vibrancy to your strands and a healthy, mirror-like shine to your entire hair. The shampoo will also keep your cuticles hydrated thanks to musk rose oil, another nourishing ingredient your hair is going to love.

To keep your color vibrant, you must take good care of your hair. Only healthy hair can be beautiful, regardless of color. Colored hair requires specialized products, so make sure you always use what you need. Your hair will be grateful.

I don’t think we say often enough how much we absolutely adore beauty products and hair care products here at #TeamCoco HQ, but we really do, and when there are new launches, product upgrades, and beauty insights to share then we are on it!

So, sit down, grab a glass of something fabulous and enjoy browsing the latest beauty picks that we have compiled for you to enjoy this February.

Re-Gen, Serum, Cream, Oil, and Oil Continuous Spray, priced from £2.99 – £8.80, from Asda, Amazon, Bodycare and more

Now is the perfect time to replenish your skincare routine, try something different and stock up on some new products for the months ahead. With the harsh winter months still upon us, it’s important to give skin the TLC it needs to stay hydrated and protected from damage.

The Re-Gen collection offers nourishing, intensive, non-greasy, products to improve the condition of the skin with scars, marks, and blemishes. All products leave the skin feeling and smelling refreshed.

ICONIC LONDON, Triple Threat Mascara, Sheer Blush, Glow Bundle, priced from £18 – £36.40, from

The latest products that ICONIC LONDON has launched include their trailblazing Triple Threat Mascara, Sheer Blush, and Glow Bundle. All these beauty products are trend-led, high quality and 100% cruelty free.

TRESemmé, Day2 Professional Haircare, £4.99 each, from

The Day2 range comprises of six products, from dry shampoo to a nourishing mist, each expertly developed to tackle all woes and worries for all hair types.

Each product in the range leaves hair looking and feeling, healthy, hydrated and restored with volume. From tight curls to damaged and thin, hair is gently cleansed, refreshed and re-styled without a drop of water, meaning bad hair days are no more!

Oh Mumma, Luxe Subscription Box for Mum and Babe, priced between £22 – £25, from

Each personalised subscription box has 5-7 handpicked beauty and lifestyle products for new/expecting mums and something for her little one’s ever changing needs. Products are tailored to a mum’s beauty profile and baby’s birth/due date.

Funderm, WAS BAD Anti-Pimples Gel Treatment, was £28 now £23, from

WAS BAD is the ultimate on-the-go invisible anti-pimple treatment gel, with visible results, for problematic breakouts and blemishes that can be such a b#@$*. Thanks to Funderm’s innovative formula with clinically proven, active ingredients and the Prebiotic & Probiotic complex, your skin will look pimple-free and purified.

This delicate oil-free gel combines clinically proven active ingredients such and wondrous dead sea minerals to unclog pores, exfoliate dead skin cells and control sebum. The cutting-edge formula works around the clock to clear pimples and blemishes, soothe irritated skin and restore its delicate microflora back to full health.

Dr Bronner, 4-in-1 Baby Mild Organic Sugar Soap, £20.49 (700ml), from

This wonderful soap combines sugar, organic white grape juice and organic coconut-olive-hemp oils to create a creamy castile lather that keeps skin nourished, hydrated and smooth. Great for washing hands, face, body and hair, the Baby Unscented option is extra gentle so perfect for little ones and those with sensitive skin.

Mena showcased her debut collection at last years Manchester Fashion Festival and since then she has been turning heads – a rising star that is sure to set the fashion world on fire with unique and immensely beautiful pieces. Thank you Mena and welcome to the House of Coco offices…

Who are your fashion inspirations?

The beloved Princess Diana, she embraced the etiquetteness of
dressing like a royal, whilst setting her own fashion statements and
rules, the sexy sequin blue dress she wore when dancing with John
Travolta is my all-time favourite dress she wore. And most importantly, Madonna, and My Mama, Soraya. Their empowered persona, daring sensuality and spirit of fashion is what inspires me.

What’s your go to key piece of clothing?

A dress or top that has definitive shoulder details, anything that shapes the shoulders will frame the face, going with that extra detail like a ruffle.

A Bardot dress makes all the difference to my smile.

How important is it to you that we influence and inspire the
youth of today? And what do you do to achieve that job

Everyone is concerned with getting successful results, quick and fast, forgetting that one picture, or one moment, can summaries 10 years of hard work, persistence and perseverance.

By volunteering in pursuit of your passion, by contacting those people who can help get you there and always have belief in the beauty of your dreams.

That’s where you can help others see that it’s all a journey, and we are all students when achieving our dreams. I plan to take on students in my luxury label to hold the legacy of Couture in Manchester, that is so rare in the UK, making it the first luxury house outside of London to produce evening wear in couture by a young designer.

What has been your perfect holiday so far?

Resting and exploring the treasures and culture of Jordan, sleeping in the desert dunes under the clearest night sky and stars, then swimming in the dead sea and being coated head-to-toe in its salty mud minerals. It was all adventure and recognizing a culture familiar to my own, I loved it!

What are your handbag essentials when abroad?

Coconut oil, L’Oreal’s clear eyebrow and eyelash gel mascara, my
favourite snack pack of raisins and almonds, Mui Mui’s signature
perfume and I never leave the house without at least some safety pins!

Ideal holiday destination

I adore the Mexican guitar, and all that comes with the Mexican City, Cancun. Nothing seems more sensual and story telling than a woman wearing a red asymmetrical flamenco dress in a short, daring length, dancing away on a balmy back- alley of a small local restaurant outside under the night sky.

How do you detox from social media?

Quite simply rid myself of toxic people and their negative energies, their expectations and wealth. Whilst cutting back and adding more fulfilling activities that sometimes, cannot be captured, or even understood, like meditating and being comfortable in your own skin. This is very important to me, the more confidence I have in myself, the more I can create and give to my world.

If you had to have 4 women past or present over for dinner,who would the be and why?

My wise and outrageously funny grandmother who could put a smile to all friends and foe in all situations. The queen of Egypt Cleopatra and queen of England Elizabeth 1, as I’m fascinated by their lives and how they conducted their countries and empire, and history of their time, fashion and art. And then at the end, get Shakira to perform a medley of her greatest hits and the rest of us would sway our hips to dessert. Bliss.

When you were a little girl – what did you want to be?

Archaeologist! – I loved the idea of telling and reading stories of the exhibitions I visited of Ancient Egypt, the history of its people, how they lived, what they wore and discovering their culture. It’s has influenced way I work today and my research.

Working from home or working in a coffee shop?

At home, I am most creative and have my studio to work all day and night to for inspiration and research.

Tell us about a hidden gem where you live!

I have a library of all the books I have read, my parents’ books passed down, from non-fiction to-fiction, it’s not what most expect but it’s my kind of chocolate treat- knowledge is power!

What are your favourite pieces in your current collection

The Madonna dress, look 4 from the Spring Summer 2019 Primavera Collection, that is detailed with star hand embroidered Chantilly-Silk lace and sequin, pearl-beads.

Look 9, the Solstice Yellow Silk-Taffeta rouched dress with its tiered
voluminous-ruffle hem and belt wrap bow detail. It’s a celebration to the beloved Princess Diana and Madonna, and My Mama, Soraya.

Their empowered persona, daring sensuality and spirit of fashion is what inspired these dresses, alongside the key details from my Mother’s wedding dress.

How do you balance your busy work life and make sure you get downtime

It’s important to be with the ones who love and support you, along side sticking to the routines that you enjoy and add quality to your life, mine are yoga, family, a good book and drinking feel-good fruit smoothies.

Where do you escape to that’s local?

To my old primary school, Chorlton park, it has the most beautiful cherry blossom trees in the summer, springs up my walks and thinking time.

Here at #TeamCoco, the whole team identify as multi-hyphenates. Not content with just one path, we pursue many; creating a rich and varied (work) life for ourselves. We love interviewing fellow multi-faceted entrepreneurs and our chat today, with artist Amanda Morie is no exception.

The entrepreneur wrote a book, competed in Miss Universe, was creating artworks for galleries around the world…and teaching in an arts based school all in the same year… Read on to find out more about the wonderful Amanda Morie.

HOC: Great to meet you, Amanda! Can you tell us a little about your journey to being an artist?

Amanda: I started doing art when I was really young; I actually sketched from a really young age. I would literally just lie in bed and look at the roof and see all the shadows from my window. When I was little, I found it really hard to sleep at night. Anywhere I moved in the house when I couldn’t sleep – from the couch in the living room or even the floor, I would just look at the shadows from the light streaming in through the windows from the night and sketch them.

I started to take art classes in grade 7 and when I was 12 I actually won best artist of the year for my school! Then I had a travelling exhibition when I was 14 and my artworks travelled across Alberta, Canada. My pieces went to different galleries and museums and I couldn’t believe it that something I didn’t know very well (art) could be something I was successful at!

However, over the next few years at school I pursued music and didn’t keep up with my art classes. I got back into art again later on in high school and a painting of mine won an award from Red Cross Canada and again travelled across Canada. Again, I was amazed but didn’t really start to focus on art until I got to university.

HOC: An amazing origin story! What happened when you got to university?

Amanda: At the time, I really did see myself as a musician and that’s what I went to university for. I’d played in the symphony since I was very young and then when I got to university and started taking music classes, I had to take the other classes as well. I took classes in Art, Music, Drama, Dance… and when I took my first Art 101 class, the professor was like, ‘ holy crap, you’re amazing! Why don’t you go into art?’

I’d never really thought about it as something for me to do seriously as I’d always considered myself as a musician but I thought okay, why not give it a chance. My professor submitted my portfolio for an Art degree and I got in! I ended up with a combined degree in Music and Fine Arts painting and a degree in Elementary Education as well. I also have a degree in event planning which I feel has really helped me with my Art eg. setting up exhibitions and curating artwork for myself for different exhibitions internationally.

HOC: And how did you turn that knowledge into your career as an artist today?

Amanda: After university I started to apply some knowledge from my classes and my professors around what I should paint / how I should paint. This has got to be the worst part of university; you do what you are told to do so that you can get good grades but in the end you should really become the voice that you want to become! I was finding it hard to find that voice as Amanda Morie…

So I started to paint. I painted just anything really and tried different mediums and techniques. I started to challenge my own thoughts. For instance, in my mind, a painting wasn’t good unless it was super detailed and hyper realistic. I also felt that a painting could be magnificent if it was abstract and unique to its own.

After university I started applying to different galleries in Canada, as I was living in Alberta at the time. All the galleries turned me down! They said, ‘okay, yes you had your first solo exhibit travel around Canada when you were 15 but we need something more’. They wanted artists of a higher calibre and this really bothered me as just because I just graduated didn’t mean that I wasn’t a good artist! I started doubting myself and thinking what I’d do next. Even thinking whether I should just give up…

Really at that time, I didn’t have any support from people around me and I stopped painting for a little while. But one day, I said ‘screw it! I’m going to make my own website!’ So I started my site in 2011 and it’s not long now until that was a decade ago! My company has been running since then and I’m so glad that I built my website and also that I learnt all the tricks on how to create a gorgeous website from scratch – including doing all the coding myself!

HOC: And it all went from there?

Amanda: Yes! In 2012 I had my first sold out solo exhibition in NY and NY started to take hold of my artworks. The galleries there saw something in my art that I couldn’t see or understand just yet . I was getting a lot of requests to go to NYC and do shows – it was just amazing!

In 2012 I also published my first book – Along The Lines Of My Thoughts by Amanda Morie. The book travelled to different galleries, museums and creative spaces. For me, it was such an achievement to create a book that showcased the youth of our generation and showed them that you can be something even if you don’t feel like you can.

It doesn’t matter where you start, it matters that you believe in yourself. That’s the initial point – the initial flame – you have to believe in yourself and trust that what you have is precious, beautiful and so unique and that the world needs to see it!

In 2015 I started painting for Saatchi Art and I started showing internationally ; Hong Kong, Paris, London. I even showed at the Eiffel Tower, at the Louvre… I was nominated for a German design award in 2017 and I also did art for Armani for the Burj Khalifa in 2017.

Last year I didn’t do quite as much! I focused more on the Artist Lane Gallery, the main gallery representing me. It’s been incredible so far; I just take it day by day!

HOC: But you aren’t solely a painter and author, are you?

Amanda: Haha, no! Alongside my book tour I was also running for Miss Universe, in the Canada pageant and became a finalist. It was absolutely incredible, especially the experience of working with different charities.

I created a computer lab for SOS children charity in Nicaragua and we raised over $84,000 to create a computer lab for kids who didn’t have any source of technology whatsoever in their lives. At this time I had already graduated with my Elementary Teaching degree and I was working in a school as well as modelling, doing Miss Universe and painting…and writing my book! It was a very stressful time but I ended up creating this connection between the kids in Nicaragua and the kids that I had in my classroom.

It was so cool to see the creativity flow between Canada and Nicaragua. Even though the kids’ lifestyle and energy of their respective lives were completely different, they had the same feelings, the same appreciation for life and for being a creative being.

The school that I was working in was an art based school so each subject was taught around art. So, if you were teaching math, you had to essentially teach addition using some art form: music, dance drama . It was really interesting, as an artist, to be teaching kids these basic necessities of life but through art. It was really life changing for me and I used this experience as my inspiration to become a better artist myself. Through everyday means and matters, I grow and see art in a different way.

HOC: And it’s art and specifically, painting that has your heart?

Amanda: Absolutely! The heart is like a paintbrush when it swipes across a crisp white canvas. Every single emotion that you are feeling comes onto that canvas. Painting is so organic and so becoming of you; that’s why abstract painting in particular for me is so important and so interesting.

Being an artist doesn’t start when you are 12, it starts from the day you were born because you are growing, you are developing your taste and your style. I feel like a lot of people feel that art is easy to do but a true artist is not just developing their style when they are 20, 30, 40 , 50; they are developing it since the day they were born!

There’s this story about Picasso; he was eating in a restaurant and did a quick sketch while he was there. When he left, the waitress asked, ‘Pablo, can I keep this?’.

Do you know what he said?

‘Of course, as long as you pay me $20,000’, or whatever the amount was.

She was shocked and asked why it would cost so much when it hadn’t taken him long.

His response?

‘My dear, it didn’t take me 5 seconds to draw. It took me my whole lifetime’.

HOC: How do you balance the varying demands on your time and still manage to be creative?

Amanda: A lot of time, we as humans, have excuses for everything. Not enough time for this or that, excuse upon excuse! For me, I’m not saying that I’m not victim to the cycle of excuses, however I try to live my life to the fullest extent possible!

Every single moment not living is a moment wasted. We choose how we want to spend our time. It is our choice! I think a lot of people try too hard to make other people happy and they don’t do enough to make themselves happy, to light that fire within them. And this is a mistake. There is a saying “you only live once but, if you do it right, once is enough.”

Even though you could say I have been successful since a young age, I suppressed my dreams for years – it was exhausting! Slowly, over time, I started to listen to that little fire within me. I started to create a list of things that wanted, that I dreamed would happen. Being a musician and playing on a stage, modelling and doing commercials and publishing my own book were all paths that helped me develop a tough skin but it wasn’t until I was a finalist for Miss Universe that I truly developed a very tough skin.

Millions of people watching your every move, social media, photos, skin, the way you walk- everything. Everyone was trying to tell me what to do and how to do it. I said ‘enough!’ and created another list.

I loved to paint, travel, and I loved my business. I couldn’t give any of them up. It wasn’t a question. I loved meeting new people, learning and growing, pushing myself to the limit.

So I did three things:

  1. I let go of all my excuses that kept me stuck
  2. I adopted great habits and behaviours that set me up for success
  3. Lastly, I acquired the skills necessary to make my exponential growth possible.

Art isn’t about finding the time. As artists, the time finds us through all the beautiful things around us and the things we experience. The creativity just flows from there.

HOC: We hear you love to travel; tell us a bit about your travel? Where has been your favourite place in the last year?

Amanda: Yes! I absolutely love to travel! I think I developed this taste of travel from a very young age, traveling around North America as a musician, but the best moments were with my mom and sister. My mom loved to take us on random little road trips and always let us try new things. She is absolutely amazing and I always thank her for this. I thank her for allowing my sister and me to be who we are.

This instinctual urge to travel has taken me all across South America, down to Antarctica, up to the North Pole, Alaska, all the tiny islands in Hawaii. I’ve visited almost the entirety of the South Pacific and 90% of Asia, Africa, Middle East and Europe. Yes, I have been to all seven continents!

One thing I learnt is no matter the culture, religion, language or city, we all function and work in the same way, we all smile big and we all just want to be loved. Every place has this in common and you can see it through and through. It’s amazing.

I think the most interesting places that I went to this year were Petra, Jordan, Israel and Muscat, Oman. These were places that I never thought I would ever go to, but they blew me away. Petra, being one of the 7 wonders of the world. Israel, I loved because it is the up and coming hub of the art world. Muscat because the beaches and mountains are breathtaking yet everything is so lavish and grandiose to perfection.

HOC: Why, in your opinion, is art so important?

Amanda: In my professional opinion, art is extremely important because it is one the first ways of communication; the first form of self expression and culture. Art dates back to cave paintings where we saw all these grand images of how life was. Then we move ahead to China where the first form of printmaking was invented right after paper was invented around 105 AD.

The Chinese created this form of printmaking to communicate between villages and then later on started to use it in terms of an art form. Everyone loves art, it surrounds us. Not everyone can say they appreciate it. I sometimes do meet some people who say they have blank walls with no interest in ever collecting. Regardless, we all have a favourite colour, favourite photograph, pattern etc., basically something that moves us and makes us happy.

So I believe everyone loves art whether they want to admit it or not! It’s in our human nature. Sometimes people collect paintings for investment but, the majority of us, we collect art because it makes us feel something and every time we see it hanging on our wall, we smile, leaving all the stresses of the day at the front door. Artistically speaking, I think art allows people to have a voice, to show the world the micro complexities of the heart, to share something they may not have shared if they didn’t have art.

HOC: For our creative readers, what advice would you have for them to grow their artist practices and get their work seen?

Amanda: I get a lot of messages every day from artists of all kinds asking me this very question! How did you start? How did you do it?

The best form of advice I can give is to be your unapologetic self. Show the world what you’ve got and don’t be afraid, because there are over a billion people in the world and chances are someone is going to love it! Get out of your studio, go to places you have never been to, talk to people, enjoy and cherish every moment. I also suggest supporting other artists, going to opening shows as much as possible, museums and talks. Maybe even doing an artist talk yourself!

Once you have confidence in yourself, it will shine through and people will notice. From there, anything is possible and the sky is the limit.

HOC: What artwork that you’ve created means the most to you and why?

Amanda: My favourite artwork is actually “Lights, Camera, Action” (seen to the left / above) that I created in 2015. Its acrylic on canvas, 24 x36 inches. I used it as part of my Fashion Week Collection of Paintings. It was nominated for an award in Dubai and shown for Armani at the Burj Khalifa in 2017.

I loved it so much because it was the first time I was part of NYFW in 2012. I loved watching all the other models get ready before shows, walking and then watching shows after. It’s a moment I will never forget. This is an image of Karlie Kloss from Oscar de la Renta’s show at NYFW Fall 2012. The way her energy was on the runway was infectious, full of class and yet serene. I had to paint the photo and put a little bit of my artistic flare into it.

HOC: Who / where do you get your inspiration from?

Amanda: Honestly I try not to let anything influence or inspire me. I appreciate the great masters like Monet, Matisse and De Kooning and of course the up and coming artists of our generation, however I want my voice to be my own. When I start an abstract painting I never think about what I want to do. I have no preconceived ideas.

Most of the time I grab whatever colours are closest to me. Even though I have a gorgeous easel imported from Italy, I like to paint on the floor and get messy! So I have a lot of colours lying around me. When I feel like I am “done” I take a step back, look at it for a long time, photograph it and then go back and fix it more if need be.

HOC: Finally, we feel you are going to have some great creative funk smashers…?

Amanda: Creativity is all around us. In the smile of someone walking by, or the perfectly made heart in the foam of a fresh cappuccino or the shine sparkling the waves as they roll onto the beach. It’s up to us if we want to see these beautiful things or not. For me that’s why I am never in a creative funk. I’m constantly learning, observing and trying new things.

If you asked me while I was in university if I would be painting using concrete, like I do now, I would laugh! I try to keep many paintings on the go at once as well, so I can paint some here and then, there to keep the constant flow of energy going.

Good music is a must as well to have playing in the studio, I like singer songwriters on cold rainy or snowy days and dance/ electronic on sunny days. Whatever the mood, music can really help!

Find our more about Amanda Morie and here work over on her website

Amanda is represented by Artists Lane, NY Art Gallery and in partnership with 1stdibs

In celebration of World Photography Day on 19th August, we’ve put together the House of Coco collection of the best photo-friendly spots around the world. From witnessing the beautiful sunset over salt water lakes in California, to viewing interesting art sculptures on Naoshima Island, amateurs and professionals alike won’t be stuck capturing that perfect shot.

California, USA
Mono Lake – Mammoth Lakes

Mono Lake is one of California’s most spectacular natural wonders, dubbed “California’s Dead Sea” due to it being more than 2.5 times saltier than the ocean. It’s surrounded by the grand beauty of the rugged, granite-peaked High Sierra Mountains and is one of the oldest lakes in North America. One of the most picturesque times to visit Mono Lake is during sunset, where the lake reflects the colour of the sky and the outline of the iconic tufa towers.

Alamo Square – San Francisco

Located adjacent to the hippie Haight-Ashbury district, Alamo Square Park is a picture-worthy spot not to be missed when in San Francisco. The historic square offers quintessential scenes of San Francisco, with the famous ‘Painted Ladies’ alongside fresh lawns, flowerbeds and willows. These colourful houses on the slanted hill are complemented by the view of the city skyline in the background. Top hint: visit on a Wednesday morning to capture the street car-free, when all the vehicles move due to road cleaning.

Lotusland – Santa Barbara

Recognised as one of the world’s best gardens, Lotusland is a stunning 37-acre estate once owned by the late Madame Ganna Walska. Visitors can snap shots in any of Lotusland’s 25 distinct gardens, each with more than 3,000 different plants from around the world. The luscious succulent gardens filled with palms and cacti are a spectacular backdrop for any photographer.

Coachella Walls – Greater Palm Springs

Coachella Walls is an arts-driven, community revitalisation project in downtown Coachella, Greater Palm Springs. The brainchild of Armando Merma and Carlos Ramirez, also known as The Date Farmers, the project aims to transform Coachella’s bare walls with bright, colourful murals that celebrate the life and struggles of the local population, which includes a large number of immigrant farmworkers. Since the launch of the community project in 2014, the vibrant walls have attracted many visitors from all around the world.

Pacific Ocean Whales – Newport Beach

Southern California is blessed with a year round whale migration and during the summer, the warmer waters bring the giant blue whales to the California coast. Newport Beach, just an hour south of LA, is a brilliant place to visit if you would like to get a front seat to some whale action. On a daily basis, you have a high chance of seeing blue whales, dolphins and sea lions, and with professional guidance, visitors can use drones to create the perfect sky high spot.

Stars in the Sky – Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park has been named as the largest ‘Dark Sky National Park’ in the USA as measures have been taken to dramatically minimise light pollution. As the park is located away from the major cities, the unobstructed views of the night sky are ideal for a night of stargazing. For expert guidance, Death Valley National Park rangers hold stargazing events during the spring and winter months with numerous astronomy organisations, to help you capture the perfect shot.

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve – Sonoma County

The majestic redwood trees in Sonoma County are amongst the tallest and oldest trees in the world. Visitors can make a trip to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, offering a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life, with 805 acres filled with fascinating redwood trees. The collection of these beautiful red trees creates a spectacular landscape shot with their eerie and mystical feel.

Sunset Strip – West Hollywood

Globally recognised for its vibrant combination of signs, entertainment and nightlife, Sunset Strip, running through the city of West Hollywood, is a unique destination for visitors both day and night. The Strip boasts the most exciting venue for billboards on the west coast and those wanting to capture a stand-out shot that mirrors the excitement of the West Hollywood lifestyle can head to the Strip at night when the brightness of the billboards bring the street to life.

Tahoe Rim Trail – South Lake Tahoe

Situated on the largest alpine lakes in North America – one of the purest in the world at 99.7% clarity – and surrounded by the majestic Sierra Mountains, South Lake Tahoe is a nature-lover’s paradise. The Tahoe Rim Trail is one of the most iconic and beautiful long-distance recreation trails in the world, with over 165-miles of single-track circumnavigating the ridge lines of the Lake Tahoe Basin. The trail offers an interesting mix of extraordinary landscapes as it crosses six counties, four National Forests, three wilderness areas, two states and one state park.

Monarch Butterflies – Santa Cruz

With an impressive variety of wildlife watching experiences for visitors to enjoy, Santa Cruz County has become a spectacular destination for nature photographers. During the migration season from October to January, Monarch Butterflies are welcomed back to their winter habitat in the eucalyptus grove, the only State Monarch Preserve in California, trickling in from colder climates to enjoy the moderate coastal weather. The collection of these beautiful black and orange butterflies becomes a magical sight for photographers to capture the magnificence of the natural world.

Huntington Beach Pier – Huntington Beach

If you’re looking for a place that captures the spirit of the SoCal surfer lifestyle, head to Huntington Beach Pier, the city’s most famous landmark. The pier stretches 1,850 feet into the Pacific, making it the longest pier on the West Coast. Whether looking to capture a picture of fisherman lining the rails, the beautiful sunsets over the sea or the surfers working their magic on the waves below, Huntington Beach Pier is the ideal spot.

Blooming Wildflowers – Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Few experiences are as memorable as walking along the miles of colour wildflowers stretching across Anza-Borrego Desert State Park during spring. Peak bloom takes place during the wetter months of the year, the 600,000-acre park is filled with a vast array of flowers along the sandy flats of the desert and extending onto rocky hillsides. There are a number of recommended photography spots, including Borrego Palm Canyon, a magnificent fan palm oasis and Cactus Loop which is known to produce the most spectacular of wildflowers in the area.

Further afield in the USA
Maroon Bells – Colorado

Located just 10 miles west of Aspen in a glacial valley, Maroon Bells – the famous 14,000-foot peaks – truly epitomise the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Visitors can explore the valley and Maroon Lake, surrounded by fields of wildflowers during the summer months for the most picturesque view. The peaks form the main attraction of Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness – nearly 300 square miles of rugged mountains, glacial valleys, meadows, forest, lakes, creeks and waterfalls – photography heaven!

City Bridges – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Affectionately known as the “City of Bridges”, Pittsburgh is home to 446 of them (more than any other city in the world!), passing over three rivers. The most recognisable collection of bridges is the trio of gold sheened bridges linking downtown to the North Shore neighbourhood – the Three Sister Bridges – named after famous Pittsburghers: Andy Warhol, Roberto Clemente and Rachel Carson. An iconic part of the Pittsburgh city skyline, the magnificence of the bridges can be captured from the North Shore side, with a view of the city buildings as a backdrop.

Naoshima Island – Setouchi, Japan

Also known as Japan’s art island, Naoshima Island in Setouchi is recognised for its iconic sculptures by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Located in various locations around the island, the sculptures encompass large, coloured pumpkins covered in polka dots, and are sure to make anyone’s Instagram pop!

Garden of the Marquesas – The Islands of Tahiti, French Polynesia

Consisting of 118 islands and atolls, including Tahiti, Bora Bora and the Marquesas Islands, The Islands of Tahiti are a true paradise in the South Pacific. Part of the Marquesas Islands, Hiva Oa provides a pristine and breathtaking landscape, with waterfalls, peaks and crossing rivers creating the picture-perfect image. Commonly named the “Garden of the Marquesas”, Hiva Oa is home to the largest tiki statue on the The Islands of Tahiti.