5 Tips for: PACKING

Welcome to addition number two of Anna’s little life tips. Since the first one went down so well, I am excited to share the next one on a topic that has been on my mind recently, what with the Big Move to Venice (1 more day!).

Packing. Not the most fun job in the world but definitely not as bad as unpacking (that’s an area I have yet to conquer). Your holiday is approaching, your move back to university is right around the corner, and there feels like there is 101 things to do. Packing should not be the most stressful of them all. Here are five handy tips to help you get on top of packing, and hopefully make the next pre-holiday to-do a little easier.


1. Start Early 

Essentially, the secret to packing is organisation. I myself being naturally unorganised, now force myself through reminders and post-its everywhere, to start laying out what I want to take with me as early as a week before I go. This way, I don’t wear it and then have to wash it and cause a whole lot more hassle for myself before I fly away. As you build up a pile of items to take, the prospect of opening an empty suitcase and trying to fill it with everything you need the night before disappears.
IMG_4490  2. Prioritise
Have you worn it in the last year? No? Than the odds are you are not going to wear it on holiday. I am a terrible over packer. I always bring a bunch of clothes I know I am not going to wear because let face it, a gal needs options. My classic excuse. In fact, it just makes the suitcase heavier, makes more things to remember when you leave, and sits unused. So prioritise things that are suitable for where you are going as well as items you love. Think about the length of your trip. For example, when I arrive in Venice, the weather is sunny and hot. But since I am there until December, jumpers and coats are going to become a necessity! Save suitcase space and perhaps pack economically. 
IMG_42483. Lists, lists and LISTS

Seriously guys, lists! As you pack, write the items down somewhere (I find laptop the easiest). This is a great habit to develop for two reasons. One, this list becomes a visual summary of everything you have taken, helping you to achieve point two: prioritize. As you look down the list, look out for anything you don’t really need or might have too many of and things that are missing. Then two, take a copy of the final list with you! This way, when repacking, you can tick items off, creating peace of mind that nothing has been lost.
Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.05.34Remember to descriptively name your clothes. Helps a lot.

4. Hold Luggage VS Carry on Luggage 

Nothing frustrates me more than those people at security who hold everyone up because despite waiting in lines with clear signs about what to do when you get to conveyor belt, they have left liquids in their hand luggage, sometimes scissors, casual few sticks of dynamite…you get the idea. They the fuss around with belts and shoes and taking laptops out and it drives me nuts. Don’t be one of these people. Avoid liquids of any kind in hand luggage, all shampoos and creams into hold suitcase please. Remember you are not going to be carrying around your hold suitcase so much, so if it is on the heavy side, it’s not a problem. If your carry on is like a bag of rocks, thats going to make the travel experience far more stressful.

5. Passport!

Okay, this might sound like the most obvious item in the world to remember. However, before we headed off to Gozo a few weeks ago, I arrived at J’s house the day before with the horrific realisation that I had indeed forgotten my passport. World class idiot to say the least. It resulted in a 6 hour drive home to collect the darn thing and A LOT of deserved teasing for the rest of the holiday. So put it out the day/week/month before you go because your conquering of the packing process will mean nothing if you cannot fly away.

All packed up and ready to go

Posted in Tips, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Glorious Gozo


As mentioned in my life update, I recently went to the tiny island of Gozo for ten days of complete bliss. I was invited by J and his wonderful family, which was kind of perfect, since J and I had been talking about doing come traveling over the summer but that idea was quickly shut down by lack of funds. So we jetted off to Malta and took a quick ferry over to nearby Gozo. An island not renowned as a fancy holiday destination, but immediately recognisable as an island of character.
viewWe stayed in a wonderful converted farm-house just outside the capital Victoria. Being such a small island however meant that we could drive into Victoria each morning and explore the fantastic market which had everything from fresh fish to beach hats. We found a favourite cafe in the square which had the best coffee and croissants and these morning were definitely the best start to the best days.
housegorg square J and I had our own car so we went exploring all over the island whenever we felt like it. When we didn’t feel like doing that, we stay in and worked on our tans, eating these amazing things called cheesy twistys and I devoured my way through books. There was one day we took a day trip to Malta altogether and spent a day photographing stunning Valletta, with its old fortress and sweeping harbour. There were countless shops selling delicate filigree in the form of Saint John’s cross and we were overwhelmed with opulence when we stepped in the Cathedral. We even came across a couple of Caravaggio’s and J and I got a little bit excited. It was extremely hot and not a cloud in the sky as I talked J into taking some portraits down one of the sandstone streets.
vallettaDSC_0676jonnyannaDSC_0674Gozo has an amazing coast line. We took a drive to the tourist spot, The Azure Window which was beautiful and further along were the salt planes where sea salt is harvested. In Gozo, drive 20 minutes in any direction and you will hit the beautiful turquoise sea.


We ate some amazing food in Gozo. J and I ate so much on our last dinner out we could barely move. So much yum.

DSC_0508This is my favourite photo of the holiday and perhaps ever. We wanted a photo together at the Azure Window…however, I HATE asking strangers to take our photo as I hate giving over my beloved Nikon to anyone. Also, strangers never take it the way I want, always too zoomed out or compositionally wrong. But what can you do when you need the photo? SO we asked a fellow who also had a big camera, hoping he might understand how to use mine better. The results were not great so I dragged J away from the azure window, arranged him on a rock and then sprinted to join him as the self timer beeped down. And voila! A rock and a self timer took a better picture than the stranger. Despite not being in front of the main tourist attraction, it is a unique view and a special smiley picture.

I hope you have enjoyed this little insight into a wonderful relaxing holiday I got to share with my best friend in a new part of the world.

Stay Glorious

Posted in Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life Update – Recent Travels, New Tech and Back to Uni

Happy Friday!!
happythurs copyThe summer has been a time of fantastic holidays, important birthdays and tough decisions. I spent some time falling in love all over again with Tuscany, showing the family the beauty of Florence and recuperating under the tuscan sun.

italystoryboardIn August, I turned 21! Woah, how did that happen? I had the most fantastic day down in Devon with my family, and various friends. It was a very low-key birthday which was exactly what I wanted, having celebrated properly back at Warwick with university friends. We had the traditional birthday breakfast and presents before and afternoon of surfing and laugher. Delicious posh dinner topped off with a seriously creative cake decorated by J and G!

With turning 21 came a whole load of new technology, which really wasn’t planned but has made my life so much easier and I have been having SO much fun playing with all my new toys, including a new SLR, a Nikon D3200 (New name Niko. He is LOVELY). Most exciting of all is I have finally invested in a MacBook Air. WOW sums it up. Cannot believe it has taken me this long. Blogging has become a dream and I love the clean look of it. Happy happy. As well as new computer and camera, few fun things I would never have got unless my bday made it possible like a graphics tablet purchased with an Apple gift card and some super cute iPhone lenses! Technological genius is the making.
techstoryboardPerhaps the highlight of this summer was a trip to Gozo with J and his family. Gozo is a little island off Malta and a seriously underrated place. It is full of character, surrounded by stunning turquoise sea and has a shabby uniqueness to it. We stayed in a covered farm-house with a perfect dipping pool for then the heat got too much, could trundle down to the city centre for inexpensive (yet delicious) coffee and pastries in the morning and travel no more than 15 minutes in any direction before hitting the beach. It was a haven of sun and beauty. Exactly the perfect get away. Full blog coming soon.


As wonderful as this summer has been, the months ahead promise even more! On the 27th September, I am flying away to Venice for a term abroad. A term with my greatest friends, a term in one of the most romantic cities in the world with my wonderful J, a term surrounded by art, beauty and good food. I cannot wait to be blogging from this amazing city, I will be sure to keep you all updated. As I live and work there, I have some decisions to make about my future and what that might look like. I hope being in such an inspiring place will help with these important decisions.

Hope you have enjoyed my little update about my world right now. Keep a look out for many blogs featuring graphics tablet, improved photos and Venice discoveries!



Posted in Photography, Travel, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life According to Instagram

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 21.59.18Busy few weeks on my Instagram lately! I am away at the moment so this is just a little update on what my crazy summer has entailed.

Top row from left: 1) The Great British summer; Rain and umbrellas in front of Bath Abbey. 2) Brit-Stich Bag is ticked off the Top Ten summer list! Sooo pretty.  3)Beautiful Nahla. 4) Big Chief J looking gooood. 5)Latitude sign, my first festival!

Middle Row: 1) Showing off my circus skills 2) Cheeky cute pic of J and I complete with token festival headband 3) My two favourites 4) Entrance to first festival 5) Necessities packed for Latitude

Bottom Row: 1) Perfect timing close up of lavender at La Foce, Italia. 2) Sunset over Tuscany. 3) An abandoned caffe door in some small Italian town. 4) Sisters at San Gimignano. 5) View over the Tuscan countryside

Lots of Insta-love

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

5 Tips for: Photography

Depending on how this new meme goes, I hope to make Anna’s 5 tip’s a regular blog feature! Very simple idea behind the meme, to encourage fellow blog readers and to encourage myself to commit to a regular blog feature so I write more. The periods of silence have become quite unacceptable.

So to spearhead this new Gold Forest venture are five tips on one of my deepest and long-standing passions: Photography!

Disclaimer: All photo examples are my own images, please request before copying. 

1. Composition

This tip was the first thing I thought of when deciding on what aspects to include in my helpful hints, because it is such an important tips that I never ever see in other posts of this nature. Composition can make or break a photo and it is SO easy to get right. Really think about the photo in front of you, think about the area you want in the foreground and what mights be busying up the background. On most cameras (even iPhones) there is a setting to turn on the grid. I would highly recommend using this tool to help you better frame your subject, guide you in the rules of thirds which can take yours photos from flimsy to focused! A technique which has changed my photography habits that some genius told me about a few years ago, is making sure the important points of your scene are placed on the intercepting points of the grid; for example, eyes when taking portraits.

4715040881_1f9fb77ac5_bFor example, in this image, the centre line occurs straight down the middle of face, dividing the image into the lighter and darker side. The plant coming out of the right is not distracting, but actually points towards her eye, something admittedly I did not notice until I looked at this photo later. But since it wasn’t distracting me whilst taking the photo, it obviously enhanced the composition.
DSC_0225 7971025306_0c12631ef2_o6818127805_f73978a374_b

So remember, when thinking about composite, think about foreground, background, what might be distracting, rule of thirds and try to remain minimal.

2. Look Out!

So much of capturing a good photo is just spotting it! Once you have trained your brain to think ‘compositionally’, fantastic photo opportunities will be popping up everywhere. Keep your eyes open for photo opportunities that might sum up the moment, that might be a once in a lifetime image. For photos that are special to you. Be ready with your camera. I tend to take my Nikon everywhere is possible, and at first people can be a bit wary and shy of a “serious” camera. But I would rather have it than risk missing that special or unexpected moment.

DSC_0080(Any excuse to include my wonderful puppy Nahla)

3. iPhone-ography

Following on from Look Out has to be a tip on iPhone-ography! All these smart phone have made it SO SUPER EASY to capture that ‘Look Out’ moment! For those rare days when I do not have my Nikon with me, my iPhone is the perfect alternative, and some of my most treasured photos have been captured from simply being on the look out and iPhone at the ready.

IMG_1468This is one of my absolute favourite photos of J and I, taken in a parking lot before an early class in the dead of winter. But it turned out wonderfully, us all bundled up and cosy close, silly smiles on our faces. This makes me happy. Thank you iPhone.



Embrace the spontaneity and the freedom that smart phone are bringing to photography. Embrace the apps! (Another tip post about iPhoneography coming soon). The ability to add text, boarders, filters to photos just makes it all the more fun. So don’t just think you must have a big fancy camera, or know about exposure or any of that to enjoy photography. The world of iPhoneography is producing a whole new kind of on-the-go, capturing everyday photographer!
IMG_0035 IMG_0036

4. Get Close Up and Creative


If you cannot immediately seek out the photo you, get active, move around, crouch, climb and seek a new angle to take your photo. Find a better light source, or ask your lovely models to readjust. You may get looks as you squat awkwardly to get level with your subject but it will all be worth it when you have that interesting viewpoint, as with my picture of Perseus in Florence.
8019053969_7f2b91631b_oDSC_0685 - CopyDSC_94624849850511_0c8a025fd2_b
5. Be Candid

DSC_0239Capturing candid (informal/unposed photographs) can be tricky. As soon as people sense the camera on them, they react and a beautiful natural moment disappears. This is where having a camera always on you can come in handy. Since my friends are used to my Nikon hanging around my neck, they tend to forget about it, or just let me snap away happily. This last tip also emphasis’ the Look Out point. If you think a moment is about to happen, ready your camera for that careful image. A sneaky trick I sometime do is compose my picture on the person I wish to capture, then call their name, quickly snapping the picture as they respond. And voila! Beautiful, candid images, that are usually more interesting than staged photo after staged photo. Get people used to the camera and they will appreciate the natural results.

407118_10151086957760347_484483565_n DSC_0035This might not be the greatest photo ever of J and I, but it is one of my favourite candid snapshots, taken on my very extended birthday almost accidentally. J telling some silly story and making me giggle as always. Also I wear that jumper too much.


I really hope these tips have been useful for you and the results of your photography is wonderful! More Anna’s Hopefully Helpful tips to come soon!

Photographer first,

Posted in Photography, Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments