This month in our travel blogger “Interview with…” series, we’re featuring Nell from Pigeon Pair and Me.
Tell us about your blog.
The Pigeon Pair and Me covers family travel, with a cultural twist. Alongside posts about rock-pooling in Brittany and skiing the Italian Alps, we post reviews and tips on family-friendly shows, exhibitions and restaurants in our home town, London.
What do you love most about travel?
To me, travel is like diving into a good book. Total immersion – being lost in the moment. There’s so much to learn from visiting new places, and seeing how other people live.
Where has been your favourite place to visit?
Norway. I began my love affair with the place aged fourteen, when I stayed for a fortnight on an international Scout camp, on the outskirts of Oslo and then further north, in Alesund. I’ve since been lucky enough to visit a few times, including last year, when Visit Norway invited me on a press trip to Bergen and the western fjords. Nature really is king in that part of the world. We sailed down the majestic fjords, took a trip up one of Bergen’s seven mountains (sadly, we missed the trolls), and chuffed through spectacular valleys, on the Flam Railway. It was the trip of a lifetime.
What is your favourite place in Italy? (if the answer above is not in Italy!)
After our trip with Bookings for You and Raro Villas, it has to be Puglia. The ancient olive trees that lined the roads, the charming white towns of Ostuni and Cisternino, the UNESCO World Heritage site, Alberobello…we only got started on exploring the area, but I fell in love. A Milanese friend of mine told me that Puglian dishes are famed across all of Italy, too. If Italians are raving about a region’s food, you know it has to be good!
What’s your best tip for travellers and holiday-goers?
Try something new, every day. Don’t be afraid to savour that weird and wonderful local dish on the menu. And talk to the locals! Part of the joy of exploring new places, is finding out about the people that live there.
How do you decide what to do when you go to a new destination?
We opt for a combination of relaxation and exploration. One day it’s visiting a farm to watch cheesemaking in action. The next, it’s jenga, draughts and reading at the poolside. That way, we get to properly experience the destination, AND shake off the stresses of life.
Getting lost in the whitewashed streets of Cisternino, Puglia. Late last night, we headed home from our long weekend in Italy, taking many vivid memories from this striking region. Ancient olive groves, calm, narrow streets, pasta dishes to die for….. and our girls, happily exploring together after a stop for gelato on the piazza. Cisternino is one of the ‘most beautiful villages in Italy’, and its streets, with archways and abundant flowers, sprung up under the guidance of Greeks, Romans and Basilican monks. We’llbe back soon, I hope. . . . . . #hosted #weareinpuglia #puglia #apulia #italy #italia #cisternino #brindisi #village #childhoodunplugged #lppathfinders #bbctravel #culturetrip #exploretheworld #wanderlust #bookingsforyou #rarovillas #explorerv #handpickedbybfy #villasinpuglia #familytravel #travel #travelwithkids #awanderfulchildhood #momentsofmine #thatsdarling #snaphappybritmums #adventurekids #littlefierceones
How do you decide which place is next on the ‘to go’ list?
I take inspiration from other family travel bloggers. My friends and colleagues are skilled at seeking out the latest hot destinations for families. I also have a hit-list of places to take the kids. Canada and Namibia are top at the moment.
What’s your favourite photo from your adventures, and why?
It’s not the most flattering image, but this picture of me, kitted out for a board boat safari on the western Norwegian fjords, always makes me smile. It was taken in February, and the boat was low to the water so the wind chill took temperatures well below zero. I had six layers on, including a ski jacket and salopettes, special-issue woollen thermals, and a waterproof thermal suit that would auto-inflate if I fell into the fjord. Talk about Michelin Woman.
What’s your go-to dinner party anecdote about your travels?
Oh dear. I lost my iphone in the Norwegian fjord. You’ll see from the picture above, just how bundled up I was. I could barely move! I’d been taking a video of some porpoises, swimming around our board boat – and then, the phone just slipped from my hands. I blame the fact that it was minus ten degrees, and I’d had to take off my three layers of thermal gloves to use the phone. Slippery iphones, and frozen fingers are not a good combination! The phone dropped before anyone could catch it, and all we could do was watch it slowly sink, into the inky black, ancient waters….
Which Bookings For You villa tempts you the most?
After having seen all the trulli in Puglia’s town of Alberobello, I’m now desperate to stay in one. We fell in love with the white city of Ostuni while we were there, so Trullo Nicola, set near Ostuni, would be a good base to see more of the place.
And finally, do you have a favourite saying or quote about travel or sightseeing?
My favourite writer of all time is EM Forster. This quote of his, from Room With a View, really sums up how travel helps me switch off, and just soak in the beauty of my surroundings. And it’s about Italy! But I could apply it equally to any destination that’s taken my heart. “Then the pernicious charm of Italy worked on her, and, instead of acquiring information, she began to be happy.”