#TBS Event - Nottingham

A couple of weeks ago, now I went to a blogger event at the body shop (after hearing about the event on the East Midlands bloggers facebook page.) You may have seen a couple of these posts by now, so I hope mine does not completely bore you. It has been such a long time since I have been to any blogger events, I am completely out of scope with my local blogging community there was so many new faces!
the body shop nottingham
I have been using cruelty free products for a while now and although the body shop is against animal testing, for the longest time they have been owned by L’Oréal who do test on animals. I have had so many conflicted feelings from buying from the body shop due to this, but at the same time so many people who buy cruelty free products buy from companies whose parent companies are not cruelty free, it is a tricky subject. Those who do not know, testing cosmetics on animals is against the law in Europe, however if a company wishes to sell in places like China the ingredients need to be tested on animals. Honestly, I still cannot believe that in 2017 we are still testing products like this on animals considering how advance we are when it comes to science. At the time of writing this though, the body shop has now been officially sold to Natura a cruelty free company, so for those of you who did not want to buy from them due to L’Oréal’s ownership you can now shop away!  

This is the first event the body shop in Nottingham have ever hosted, so it was all completely new to them. The event was a showcase to show off some of their new products, on arrival we were greeted with some chocolate and a refreshing berry juice. We were then told a brief history about the company itself before telling us that they had a little competition that on the bottom of the cups was a coloured star and if you had a certain colour you had won one of their products. I had already placed my empty cup on the side so I picked up back up and flipped it over to pouring little droplets on the floor (typical me) but lucky for me I had a green star so I was gifted one of their new face masks the Japanese matcha green tea mask, it is a mask I have heard so many good things about and it aims to rid the skin of pollution. I also found out on the night that Nottingham has one of the highest air pollution rates after London.
the body shop nottinghamAfter the introductions, the shop was split into sections, a makeup section, skincare, body etc. Firstly, I went to the makeup counter, I have been using the body shops fresh nude foundation as a cheap cruelty free alternative but I found it just slid of my skin so I was eager to try their new matte foundation. I got colour tested for this, for the second lightest shade which matches perfectly although I may give the lightest shade a go at some point. I love this foundation, because it has done what no other foundations has done for the longest time and lasts on my face pretty much all day! I can touch my face and not have to panic that I have wiped my make up off, and it only costs £10. 

the body shop nottinghamI also needed a new moisturiser, so I went to speak to the skincare consultant who asked me about my skin. I have oily skin, which I have always known but she gave me these little papers to put on areas of my face to see just how oily and well it was pretty gross. She showed me several different products but in the end, I opted for the seaweed oil control gel cream.the body shop nottingham

the body shop nottingham
The body shop has so many different products on offer from lotions, perfumes, shampoo etc. in a variety of gorgeous scents such as vanilla, strawberry to orange. We were also give a preview of their new vanilla pumpkin range which I believe is on sale now (don’t quote me on that) and it was completely and utterly divine, even after I left I kept sniffing my hand because it was such a yummy smell. So yes, I will be going back to buy some of that range.It was a lovely way to spend my Tuesday evening, and it was nice being able to test out some of the body shops new products. They were extra generous on the night on gave us 40% of any products purchased along with a little bag with a few samples. Along with the foundation and moisturiser I picked up some of their hemp lip balm.

 Have you visited the body shop recently? Let me know what your favourite products are.

Tucan Travel - Nazca, Peru.

Huacachina to Nazca.

Day one.

The drive from Huacachina to Nazca was a short one, however I spent most of the drive debating on whether to take a scenic flight over the Nazca lines. Honestly, although I have heard of the Nazca lines my knowledge on the lines wasn’t the greatest but on the other hand seeing the Nazca lines is an experience unique to Peru, something I might not ever get the chance to do again. So, in the end I ended up jotting my name down on a scrap of paper confirming I would be taken part but even then, I was still debating crossing my name off. Our truck driver Richie highly recommended doing it, he told us we would be going to a lookout to see the lines from the ground and that seeing the lines from the ground is like seeing a tiny piece of a jigsaw puzzle, a puzzle that you cannot fully appreciate unless you see the bigger picture.
He was right, when we pulled up at the lookout I paid the one sol it costs to climb up to the top. Below me you could see lines, but it was extremely hard to work out what you were looking at, what the lines were an image off. I even had to point out the lines for one girl. Climbing back down the stairs I was happy with my decision to do the flight. Soon after we arrived at our campsite for the night, I cannot recall the name but it was a nice little hotel where we camped on the grounds complete with swimming pools, a bar and a wi-fi room. Once there we were given the obligatory demonstration of setting up the tent, which was easy, due to the heat though being inside the tent was intolerable! At lunch time, we were told the news we were no longer going to Arequipa, instead we would be staying an extra night in Nazca and arriving a day early in Cusco. This was due to an earthquake causing a landside on the road we would need to take into Arequipa, this was incredibly disappointing for me and many others since a lot of us wanted to visit Colca Canyon, and we had no idea what we would be doing with our other day in Nazca.

nasca lines

nasca lines

At lunch times those doing the Nazca flight was picked up and drove to the airport, where we were given a safety induction and that was it, we were given no information on the history of the lines, something I was expecting. The flight itself was in a small aircraft and goes over the most well-known Nazca lines, so I took my go pro to take photos of the lines and when I looked back over them I could not see a single Nazca line in any of them. No idea what happened there but I did get a nice little video over on my Instagram of the astronaut. I am not going to lie the thirty-minute flight was horrific, the sun was shining in through the window, the plane was going in all directions. Movement and heat was not a good combination and I honestly thought I was going to throw up. I was terrified, and when he finally told us we were heading back I was so relieved. Turns out everyone felt the same, so we all ended up buying ice creams to settle out stomach.

To be honest with you, after the helicopter ride I wasn’t sure how I felt about seeing the lines. I really felt like I did not appreciate the fact that I got to see the lines.

Day two.

Due to us spending another day in Nazca, our tour guide arranged an optional tour for us with a company called edunas tours. We were picked up in dune buggies (driving around in these are always so much fun but you also get covered in dust…) and taken to various locations. I could not highly recommend this tour enough, our guide was fantastic although I cannot recall her name, she provided us with so much information on the Nazca people that it made me appreciate the fact I did the flight over the lines. Unlike the pilot, she gave us a brief history of the Nazca lines, such as the fact there are hundreds of simple lines and shapes whilst more than seventy of the lines contain images that are animals, she talked about how they were made and why they have lasted so long. She spoke of Maria Reiche a German mathematician and archaeologist who dedicated a large portion of her life to unearthing the lines, a person our guide met when she was a child. Reiche is buried near the lines located near the lookout, and often referred to lines as her children. Today, many people do not understand why the lines were made, some believe they were offerings for gods to bring water to the area, for religious purposes, for art in general whilst our guide believed there may be a connection to aliens. Our guide believes that the Nazca people copied what they saw, hence why the Nazca people would use cranial deformation to elongate heads, why the astronaut line has a large head, because the Nazca people saw these ‘aliens’ and mimicked them. It is why the Nazca lines can only truly be appreciate from the air. There have also be many reports of abnormal skeletons found in Nazca, skeletons with three fingers and toes, short of structure etc. (whether these are a hoax or not I do not know.) Whatever the reason behind the lines, it is interesting hearing so many people’s opinions on why they think the lines are there.
aqueducts nasca

aqueducts nazca
Anyway, the first stop on the tour were the aqueducts. An aqueduct is a watercourse constructed to convey water. The aqueducts serve as a large hydraulic system which carried water underground to areas where water was needed, for example to water crops or to drink. The aqueducts allowed people to have access to water throughout the whole year, some of the aqueducts are still being used today and it is a prime example of the knowledge and intelligence of the Nazca people (or Pre-Nazca as many are still unsure when they were built.)

Cacti are very popular here, often growing fruit which can be sold, many of these Cacti are infected intentionally with a parasite called Cochineal, some of you may have heard of this insect as it produces the natural dye carmine. Why? Because carmine is worth more than what the fruit of the Cacti produce, it is commonly used in cosmetics such as lipsticks. Sadly, this does involve the parasite being squished, which our guide did to show us the colour produced which was the brightest of reds.
cemetery nazca

Cahuachi nazca
The next stop we visited a burial ground, like many of the Nazca sites over the years they have been subjected to graverobbers with many sites being dug up and torn apart. This burial site had the same inflicted upon, whilst other artefacts were removed and placed in museums, what is left is remnants of scattered skeletons, fabric and hair. The bones that have remained are extremely white due to being bleached by the sun. It did feel a little strange walking over this site where the chances of treading on breaking a human bone was very high. The burial site is located not far from Cahuachi, the next stop on a tour. Cahuachi was a ceremonial centre, the site wasn’t used for long term living but used for religion or pilgrimage and a burial site. It was fascinating to look around, and I was provided with so much information it was overwhelming to take it all in. When I visit sites like these I like to try and imagine what life would have been like, sometimes it’s hard to even imagine what it would be like. We were shown sites where food and water would have been stored/gathered (from holes in the ground) if you look at the ground you more than likely may see tiny bits of pottery that have been broken and scattered around somewhere along the way. The Cahuachi site is currently still be excavated so whose knows what else they may find!

We arrived back at camp just in time for lunch which was a brunch made up of scrambled egg, cheese scones, French toast, bacon and much more. Don’t let anyone ever put you off camping because of the food! A few of us decided to get together and book a tour to Chauchilla cemetery, this was a place we were meant to visit in the morning before driving to Arequipa and a few of us really wanted to go, for myself it was one of the things on the itinerary that really appealed to me and something I marked immediately as wanting to do.
Chauchilla cemetery

Chauchilla cemetery
The Chauchilla cemetery contains mummified remains and archaeological sites. The bodies that are located at the site have been so well preserved due to the dry climate, the bodies being clothed in embroidered cotton, then painted in resin before being placed in mud brick tombs. Again, we had a fantastic guide called Juan Tohalino who has his own hostel called Nasca Trails, also speaking four languages Spanish, English, German and French! What I loved about being in Nazca was meeting so many people so proud and interested in their heritage and in the history of their country. Again, this site has been targeted by grave robbers but so many tombs have been restored and there are many more still buried. 

After the cemetery, the tour also included a ceramic and textile workshop, none of us knew what to expect and thought maybe we might be making something.  Instead we ended up in a little rustic building where textile and ceramics are made and given a demonstration of each. We were shown beautiful dyed wool and told how they get the colours, once upon a time baby urine used to be used to make green dye. Then shown many stones used in their ceramic work.

Although I was disappointed about not going to Arequipa, I had such an amazing extra day in Nazca and it was so interesting to be able to learn more about the history of Peru. 

Tucan Travel - Huacachina, Peru.

 After Ballestas islands we made our way to Huacachina. Huacachina is a desert oasis and tiny village located west of the city of Ica. The journey to Huacachina I was sat staring out the window, as many of you may know Peru is classed as a third world country, with many areas riddled with crime and poverty. Most times when people go to Peru they visit the tourist spots so may not always be aware of this, driving from place to place it did not really strike me how bad the poverty was until I had seen it with my own eyes. There was litter everywhere, shacks of buildings, buildings falling apart, uncompleted buildings. Being on the outside looking in, it is incredibly hard to imagine how people are living in these conditions, it reminds me of how lucky I am and how much I take for granted.
huacachina peruIn Huacachina, there is the optional activity of sand-boarding and an overnight stay in the desert. We all opted to do both activities, upon arriving in Huacachina we got our cases out of the truck and grabbed everything we would need for the night. We had half an hour before going out in the dune buggies, so we all sat around the pool. Here, I felt lost. Everyone was chatting away in little groups, whilst I sat there with my feet in the crisp, cold pool not talking to people because I had no idea what to say, I started to worry then maybe I would not bond with people in the group. Thankfully, it was not long before we were climbing into massive dune buggies. The dune buggies felt like being in a roller coaster, dipping and diving over the dunes, our bodies getting thrown up, down and around the buggy.
huacachina peru

huacachina peru
huacachina peruFor me, this was my first time in a desert and the surroundings were breath-taking, the golden hues, sun dancing of the sand, the bright blue sky, the emerald green oasis. After being in the buggy for a while we were then taken to several sand dunes to go sand boarding, each dune was bigger than the last.
huacachina peru

huacachina peru

The first one, I was second to go down the dune, I had no idea what I was doing and I was incredibly nervous. Lying on the board, flat on my stomach, flip flops in hand and legs wide apart I was pushed down the dune. Most of the way down I was half terrified I was going to flip the board and fall off (which did happen to one person) but I made it to the end, sand burns on my arms and legs and my phone case (which was in my pocket) scratched to pieces. The second dune was a lot rockier, with a massive bump in the sand which made my board jump of the ground, this slightly put me of doing the last dune, which was the highest of them all but I hacked up the courage and did it and was surprised at how smooth the last dune was. Sand boarding was so much fun and it was a great way to bond with others in the group and my initial fears of not being able to connect with people disappeared.

huacachina peruAfter sandboarding, we went to watch the sun set. I have seen so many incredible sunsets in my life but nothing has quite compared to watching the sunset in the desert. It was golden, warm and magical. Once the sun had made it way down below the dunes, we went to the spot where we would be camping. A fire was under way, with skewers being prepared. The cold slowly started to creep upon us as it got darker, we spent the night huddled around the fire getting to know each other (whilst trying to avoid getting smoke in our eyes,) eating food of vegetable skewers and quinoa salad (for me anyway,) drinking pisco a brandy which is mixed with other ingredients to create a pisco sour, climbing up a sand dune (which was incredibly hard) to look over the dunes and the night sky. As we started to feel sleepy, we all lined our sleeping bags in a row and fell asleep under the sky. 
Surprisingly, it wasn’t too hard falling to sleep on the sand and I drifted off to sleep easily only waking a few times throughout the night, one of which is when I needed the toilet. It was already light out, but it was freezing. I made my way to the toilet, which was a long drop and found it in a complete state, sick and sh*t everywhere that I ended up squatting behind the toilet. (A few people may have drunk way too much…) I then curled back up in my sleeping back, falling back to sleep before it was time to wake up. Our sleeping bags were so warm and cosy none of us wanted to move, so we waited patiently for the sun to make its way over to us, lighten up the desert as it went but our patience worn thing and we gave up and embraced the cold. The ride out of the desert was incredible, overnight the clouds had sunk creating a mist over the desert with sand dunes rising out of the mist like mountains. As spectacular as it looked, driving through the mist wasn’t as pleasant with cold droplets coating out skin, hair and clothes. I was itching to get back to the truck, grab some clothes that was not covered with the scent of smoke and have a wash. Once more I would highly recommend going to Huacachina if you are ever in Peru.

Have you ever been to a desert before?

Tucan travel - Ballestas Islands, Peru.

Today was an early start, we had strict orders from our van driver and tour guide to be checked out and in the hotel lobby by 5:45am with everything packed and ready to go by 6am. This was mainly since today we would be doing two excursions the first the Ballestas Islands and the second Haucachina. I groggily made my way downstairs to the lobby where I was greeted by the other members of the group who I had yet to meet. We were then taken outside to the truck, it was HUGE I am honestly quite annoyed that I did not get a picture of the big and very yellow truck that drove us across Peru. This truck has everything you could think off from a library to an oven, the only thing missing was a toilet and wifi… If a zombie apocalypse was to ever occur, I would like to find myself with one of these trucks!!
pisco ballestas islands

The islands are located in the Pisco province near the town of Paracas. For most of the journey to Ballestas islands I slept or gazed hazily out the window, but as we got closer to the islands my excitement grew. The islands were one of many things I was looking forward to on the itinerary, often called the poor man’s Galapagos I was excited of the prospect of seeing a variety of species of animals. Once we off the bus we were provided with our tickets which cost around 37 soles.  We then waited around the harbour, watching painted boats bob along the water whilst pelicans sat around blissfully. We were then veered off into speedboats, with our bright and oversized lifejackets into the open sea. Before we had even got to the islands we encountered wildlife and I may have shouted dolphins a little too loud to the girl sat next to me.  This was the first time I had ever seen dolphins in the wild, so I sat in awe whilst filming a video on my phone and trying (and to no avail) to take a good photo on my camera. It was incredible to sit and watch a playful pod of dolphins poke their heads in and out of the water. 
candelabra geoglyph peru

candelabra geoglyph peru
Once we had finished watching the dolphins we carried on stopping at the famed Candelabra Geoglyph. The design is found on the northern face of the Paracas peninsula, not much is known about the geoglyph but it is said to be dated to 200 B.C. There are many theories surrounding the creation of the geoglyph, some people think the Candelabra may have a connection to the Nazca lines whilst other imply that aliens had something to do with the formation.
birds peru ballestas islands

birds peru ballestas islands

humboldt penguin peru
humboldt renguins peru
Around ten minutes later we spotted our first glimpse of the islands, on the horizon was a mass of birds flying away from the islands, the trail of birds stretching as far as the eye could see. The islands themselves are a craggy rock formation, every nook and cranny of the rock face had birds perched upon it. Within minutes of arriving we had spotted pelicans, boobies, terns, cormorants and the one species of bird I did want to see but did not want to get my hopes up for Humboldt penguins, I was ecstatic. I do not know what it is about Humboldt penguins but they always look like they are up to mischief, these ones were no exceptions as they waddled over the rocks, stopping and moving in perfect unison. 
sea lions peru ballestas islands

sea lions peru ballestas islands
sea lions peru ballestas islands
We circled around the larger parts of the island and the smaller outcrops inching as ever close as we could get, the main attraction to these islands for most people are the sea lions and we saw so many. The sea lions were fun to watch, most of them were basking whilst others were barking and bossing each other arounds or swimming playfully in the sea, it was such a joy to watch. There were other animals to be seen such as starfish and as our guide called them sea spiders (crabs) we also got to see an octopus which was sadly being held up by a fisherman and broke my heart a tiny bit. Overall, we spent over an hour going around the Ballestas islands, our guide spoke a lot about the islands, the conservation and protection of the islands and species which live there. I had so much fun and could have spent longer on the boat just watching the many species of animals we saw, if you are ever in Peru and want to see wildlife then I would highly recommend coming here. Once back on land, we grabbed lunch at a local restaurant before heading off to our next stop Haucachina.

Where has been your favourite place to spot wildlife?

If you have any questions about my trip to Peru feel free to ask me in the comments sections.

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