do you know the way to São Miguel?

This time last year the UK had just voted for Brexit and I was heartbroken, but heading off for an absolutely amazing trip to the Azores, or more specifically one Azorean island, the beautiful São Miguel.

It was basically my perfect holiday. The Azores is not a well known holiday destination, apparently, as there were few tourists. We hired a car and the driving was super easy, the roads are well maintained and there are not many cars. There was SO much to do for nature fans like myself and it wasn’t too warm to get out and do it all. The highlights:

Whale watching: there are a whole host of companies able to take you out whale watching on all manner of sea craft. We went with the fabulous Futurismo, who are one of the biggest, but we chose a small boat, a zodiac, so it felt more like a small boutique tour. Even without the whales is would have been a great morning, bouncing across the Atlantic and looking out at the vast ocean, but we were lucky to see Sei whales and two types of dolphin.

Snorkel in a volcanic crater: pop out to the Villa Franca Islet to snorkel in beautifully clear, shallow water in the crater of an extinct volcano. I spotted a octopus and it pretty much made my year!

Walk your socks off and then walk some more: this island is absolutely packed with great walking routes that are so well signposted you don’t need map. You download or print the start points and fact sheets before you go and just head off. The routes all have great viewpoints such as hot springs,

waterfalls, lakes, architectural features, abandoned towns…get exploring!

Bathe in hot springs: volcanic action of all sorts is kind of a big deal in the Azores. A number of hotels in the Furnas region have their own hot springs, but for a more rugged experience you can head to Mosteiros or Caldeira Velha (the latter not really SO very rugged).

This was really one of the most gorgeous places in the world I’ve ever visited. I can’t imagine it’ll stay such a secret for much longer, so go before everyone else discovers it!

starting point

When I moved into my home 7 years ago the garden was kind of neat and tidy, a bit run down around the edges and with a couple of established fruit trees. Fast forward to 2014 and 4 years of neglect hadn’t improved things any, so I tried to introduce some structure, I destroyed an ugly path and created a large circular lawn, introducing flowerbeds around the side, created a pond and along the way dug up an old, buried fibreglass pond and tonnes of rubbish, but it still wasn’t very inspiring.

Time for a change.

This year I started again, I made my circular lawn about half the size and began adding paths and a good solid lawn edging to keep my grass out of the flowerbeds. I replanted all my plants into one section, keeping the planting nice and dense to supress weeds. I still have about 70% of the garden left to do, but am holding off as home renovations mean we have a team of builders regularly trampling the earth there, so it looks like an ugly wasteland.

This blog will follow some of my efforts in the garden. I’m a total noob, so making lots of mistakes, but I’m SO keen that failure isn’t an option!

Here’s our original garden and 2014’s snaps. Eep.