Our Long Weekend in Rome; Day 2 by Alec Warriner

On our second day in Rome we took upon ourselves to jump on a tour bus. There are now many choices for tours and from what we could gather they all covered pretty much the same stops, but what you don’t want is to get scalped for over priced tickets from an unsavory character in the street. So our tip is to head to Roma Termini, which is the main train / bus station in Rome as a lot of the tours start here and you can buy legitimate tickets from the tours themselves.

The tour we chose went as far out as the Vatican City which was our main goal for the day and as most do provided the luxury of being able to jump on and off at landmarks. The one thing I will say on this is be sure to plan when you want to get off and on as the stops do get very crowded and you could be waiting for several buses to come before you are allowed on.


The first half of the tour took us around ancient Rome and having experienced most of this on foot the day before we stuck to our original plan stayed on until the Vatican City stop. This was of course perfectly enjoyable,as although it was mid Feb and slightly nippy the weather was clear blue skies and we could sit on the top deck and listen to audio talk us through the histories of Rome.


Once we arrived at the Vatican City we hopped off and walked across St. Angelo Bridge. Built in 134 A.D the bridge gives access to Castel San’Angelo, a vast circular 2nd Century castle now used to house a collection of Renaissance furniture and paintings. But equally as interesting, Castel San’Angelo was the hiding place of Pope Clement VII during the sack of Rome.

We walked with the crowds up to St. Peters square and not for the first time nor the last we were stunned by the architectural beauty of the buildings. We stood in the square and avoided the many people trying to persuade us to part with our cash and follow them to someone selling tickets to the Sistine Chapel. Another tip here guys is to try and be as early as possible if you want to visit the Sistine Chapel and purchase your tickets at licence vendors; there plenty many in the square. We chose not to go into the Chapel as the line which was HUGE, because we did not get there early ha.


After walking back across St Angelo Bridge we caught the open topped bus for the second half of our tour of Rome and settled back into the romantic audio of our tour guide and historic Rome. Our next stop was the Spanish steps and by this time the afternoon was coming to end and a beautiful purple sunset was on its way.

Unfortunately the majority of the steps were closed to the public due to much need TCL, but we were able to walk down the right hand side of them. Even then the marble was spectacular looking and smooth enough to slide down, not advisable. As expected the Spanish Steps and the area around the baroque ship fountain at the foot of the steps was packed with tourists taking photos, which makes getting any personal photos quite difficult, but when in Rome you need to give it a go!

If you can be at the steps for the end of the day it is 100% worth it as the sun strikes the Trinita dei Monti, which is the 16th century church at the top of the steps and creates another amazing photo opportunity. Our photo of this was taken from the balcony of a wonderful little restaurant called Mariotti, which is directly to the right of the steps if you’re standing at the top.  We perched there for an hour or so drinking prosecco and red wine whilst the sun went down on our 2nd day.

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We ended our day with a wonderful evening walk through the streets to Trevi Fountain, which is a short walk from the steps and only took us 15/20mins after a few large glasses of wine. This for me was the most impressive moment of our trip, the fountain after dark is illuminated by underwater lighting creating a magical environment and stunning view of the statues grandeur. Once again the crowds are slightly too many, but be patient and get the all-important selfie with the fountain and throw a coin over your shoulder into the water, making a wish!

To be continued…

Bristol Surf Film Festival 2016

Bristol Surf Film Festival 2015 from Alejandro Casado on Vimeo.


Bristol Surf Film Festival is set to be bigger and better than ever and we are really excited to be giving you a sneak look at what they have coming up.

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‘The Bristol Surf Film Festival is a celebration of surf film, surf culture and creativity in the UK’s south west. A day and night of international feature films, award winning shorts and home grown productions is accompanied by exhibiting brands and organizations that represent the core of grassroots surf culture in the UK.

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This year Spoke & Stringer join forces with Deus ex Machina to bring you the very best of Ride Culture.

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Films include the Premier of South to Sian from Deus, The Accord, Ababco and more to be announced!

Food & Drink will be provided by Spoke & Stringer & Friends with award winning Street Food and Beerd Brewery Craft Ales Tasting Stand

There will be a fully licenced bar (Cash only)

Music & Band listing – Coming Soon!’


Our Long Weekend in Rome: Day 1 by Alec Warriner

In February of this year we were lucky enough to spend a long weekend in the beautiful city of Rome, Italy. We’ve always wanted to travel to Italy and experience the ancient city, all the history and romance of Italian culture, so we took this opportunity to really try and experience as much of Rome as possible. Firstly we wanted to do all the classic tourist routes and spots, but equally as important to us was to try and get lost and find ourselves a Rome that you wouldn’t find on the page of Tourism Guide.


After an easy flight from London we pitched up at our Airbnb which was located in the heart of historic Rome. This beautiful private flat in a classically kept gated community was a stones throw the ruins of the Roman Forum, which in turn meant that we were ideally placed to experience Ancient Rome and were exactly 400m from the Colosseum. We began by getting our bearings and decided to explore the area around us known as Rione X Campitelli. This area of Ancient Rome is home to some of Rome’s most famous and incredible buildings; walking just around the corner from our flat we were on top on the Roman Forum, which in its hay day was the centre of Rome’s government buildings, temples and a vibrant public area.  These astonishing ruins are something to behold, confusing as the geography has been somewhat lost amongst the remaining structures and the less durable remains. But what took us by surprise was the sheer size of these buildings, which was only surpassed by the realisation that they were hundreds of years old and were built and constructed by hand!


A short walk from the Forum is the Piazza del Campidoglio, a stunning courtyard which is bordered by three equally stunning buildings which now house the Capitoline Museums. Walking down the Cordonata, grand stone steps, on the main road we arrived at the right hand side of the Piazza Venezia, home to the Vittoriano. This incredible marble building has many impressive attributes and stands proudly at the head of Via dei Fori Imperiali, or to you and I, the road that leads to the Colosseum. However, our favourite attribute of the Vittoriano had to be the Terrace of Chariots which stood at the back, which had giant iron horse drawn chariots at each end, lording over Rome like Roman gods!


We then walked up to the Colosseum, which did not disappoint. I think the only way I can possibly do this amazing building justice is to simply say you have to see it for yourself! As we walked around the circumference of it, sadly it was closed for the day when we were there, our conversation bounced between Gladiators, Emperors and the splendour it would have been to see when fully constructed. Its easy to see how it is described as the worlds first stadium as it does rival many stadiums today.  The complete enormity of the Colosseum is breath taking, our eyes scanned every crack and every shade of stone oozing with history. Again our conversations came back to how on earth such a building was completed, by this stage we fancied ourselves quite the engineers so reckon we could figure it out, but in truth if you do look hard enough you can see the different stages and ages of which the Colosseum was built and birthed giving some indication as to how such a mammoth building has lasted so long.


Our day ended with a lovely walk along to the Circus Maximus, which is now a vast open space where once stood a large stone and marble arena capable of seating over 250,000 people. This giant of an arena was where chariots racing took place and truly was a site. To this day the dirt sand track can be made out and walked on and opposite is Palatine Hill on which stands the ruins of a vast Roman palace and Rome’s second ever temple, Temple of Apollo.

To be continued…….


Lisbon- The Forgotten City? By Caitlin Russell.

We love getting posts in from Caitlin as she has a fantastic passion for travel and a keen eye for some amazing pictures! This latest instalment follows Caitlin through Lisbon with her boyfriend Paul and was the first part of a 9 week journey spanning Europe and Indonesia!


Our entire first day was lost to travelling and we didn’t arrive at our hotel – Residencial Mar dos Acores – until two o’clock this morning. The metro link is available from the airport and an unlimited 24 hour card costs only €6 each. We alighted the last train around 1.15am and it took us an absurd amount of time to find the hotel due to the lack of public wifi, thankfully when we did arrive our room was still waiting for us. With a 7.3 rating on Booking.com and one bathroom per floor which is shared between eight rooms, the €25 per night fee for us both seemed fair. It’s located a steep five minute walk from the Anjosnmetro station and is surrounded by shops, bars and restaurants. When we got there, the amenities were beyond what we had expected; immaculate kitchen stocked with beers and drinks for a fee, stunning mosaic interiors and a lift. The room itself, albeit compact, was spotless and included a sink, TV, air conditioning unit and a fan – both of which are necessary even at night. The bathrooms pleasantly surprised me, again immaculate and cleaned several times a day. After one night past, €25 seems like a steal.

From what I had read online, on WordPress as well as the Visit Lisbon website, I would be lying if I  told you I expected much from the Portuguese capital. Combined with the heat, how tired we were and the pending game against Poland this evening, I really thought today would have been lost to relaxing and watching football. Thankfully, for me at least, that was so far from the way the day unfolded, and I’m really glad our curiosity pushed us towards spending time in a lesser raved about location, because after only a few hours out in the beating sun we have both fallen for this beautiful city.


We took the metro from Anjos to Rossio, the city’s main plaza in the Baica district. From there, we headed uphill through the narrow, pastel coloured streets. We had no plan, but our route allowed us to see so many glorious buildings. We followed the steep steps upwards to a higher plaza, from which we could see the city’s port. After deciding to head towards the water, distraction after distraction pulled us in all directions. Every street we passed  one of us found something intriguing; from intricately mosaiced walls to hidden churches, the rich pastel colours of the city are so attractive we couldn’t help but walk around with our necks craned, while I photographed everything my eyes met. Eventually, when we reached the water we sat at a waterfront restaurant and watched the world go by with a cold beer in our hands. Across the water, sailboats and cruise liners sales past and the vast red suspension bridge leading across to the historic Almada district stood stark against the bright blue sky and water. Behind it, a Christ the King statue stands tall, towering over the district and overlooking the rest of the city from across the water.


From the harbour, we walked along the waterfront, through the Praça do Comércio and underneath the Rua Augusta Arch; the city’s trump gal arch, a vast Neoclassical monument flanked by Baroque buildings (which are very reminiscent of Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna). Through the arch and much to my delight there was a wine festival taking place before the shopping district began. I tried local whites whilst Paul did some shopping before heading to the Elevador de Santa Justa, a tower with panoramic views of the city, but also with an extensive queue and so we decided to head further uphill to have an undisturbed and unrestricted view for ourselves.


Without realising,  we had done a complete lap of the city on foot and found ourselves back at Rossio square almost three hours later. I took the opportunity to photograph what I had not already and afterwards we headed away from the square in the opposite direction from before, towards the  Cathedral and Castle. We climbed even steeper streets on this side, but there are teams, tacos and tuk tuks available if the walk isn’t for you. Pauls trying to catch up on my tan from Canada, so I think that’s why he has been so keen to walk so far. On this side, streets were beginning to be decorated with Portuguese flags and tinsel in the flags colours. Music played loudly from pubs and the smell of seafood bled out into the streets from the many homes and restaurants that lined the cobblestone streets. Once at the top I found the view I had been searching for all along; a sea of terracotta roofs and off-white walls, plastered against an uninterrupted blue sky. We found the Cathedral atop the hill, but the castle sadly evaded us, and we were too tired to look anymore.

I feel Lisbon is sadly overlooked in favour of the more popular European cities such as Barcelona or Rome, and I can say that because I too overlooked it. After visiting so many in Asia, I have a really great appreciation for European cities and am trying so much more to explore the world a little closer to home before venturing out across continents again. Lisbon was the perfect starting point for this new adventure of ours because of its relaxed atmosphere, the lack of need to rush to pack sights in and the proximity of sights from one to another. Without a map and any idea as to where we were or where we were going, in a few hours Paul and I seen the majority of the sights on the to see lists. I found it to be an incredible romantic city – something I don’t think I’ve ever said about anywhere on earth. The colourful buildings and sun constantly shining makes it near impossible to not stroll around with a smile on your face. I was so pleasantly surprised by the proximity of the water to the city centre, and the rich variety of architecture and sculpture across the city.


I feel relaxed, which is odd to say after a day of walking around in the heat. In truth I feel really lucky to have spent time here, and I can’t wait to see what the Portuguese city of Porto has to offer over the next few days.


You can see more from Caitlin and her travels here and follow her on Instagram here.



The Isle of May – Puffin Watching! By Nicole Duncan

If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Scotland you should definitely try and make your way over to the Isle of May. The Isle of May is a small island located off the East coast of Scotland and is a National Nature Reserve site. Considering it is a tiny island, it is home to a huge amount of of wildlife including Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills, Shags, Cormorants, Terns and Grey Seals and although there are no permanent residents there are often people staying there for a few days to study the animals and plants.


The only way you can get to the island is by taking a boat trip from Anstruther or Crail, it takes around an hour, but no worries, there is a bar on the boat!!


Once you land you get a quick talk about the island and what to expect and then you are set on your way. One bt of advice I would strongly recommend that you follow is to **stay out of the way of the Terns!    The season in which the boat trips happen also coincides with breeding season and this makes them very territorial and they will swoop and peck at you if they think that you are too close to their nests. Be warned they do actually hit you, I learned this the hard way!


Once you get past the terrors that are the Terns, the rest of the trip is far more relaxing! You are left to wander around the island using the paths that have been marked out, avoiding the 46,000 puffin nests that are hidden in the surrounding earth. The abundance of wildlife around the island is incredible and for anyone even slightly interested in photography it is an absolute dream.

There is also a huge population of seals on the island and one of them decided to follow us around for a while! We also even managed to catch a glimpse of a dolphin but unfortunately we weren’t able to get any pictures of them.


The main reason for taking this trip however is to see the puffins and you literally couldn’t miss them as there are over 100,000 of them on the island at the height of summer!





Top Tips for the Isle of May:

**Dress for cold weather/rain, have layers so you can take them off if you are warm.

**Take a hat or a jacket with a hood to save you from the Tern attacks!

**Take a packed lunch as there are no shops on the island and you can only buy snacks and drinks on the boat.

**Make sure your camera is fully charged as you will have LOADs of things you will want to take photos of.

You get to stay on the island for just under three hours, so this gives you pleanty of time to take all the photographs you would like and then once you return to the mainland, make sure and visit the Anstruther Fish and Chip bar – it has won the best chippy in Scotland for several years and it certainly lives up to the name!






San Blas – Panama’s Hidden Gem. By Philipp Hauptmann

When I first got to Panama, I knew next to nothing about the country. After some
adventurous and crazy weeks traveling in Central America, what I was looking for, was a
remote place in the Caribbean to relax and do some landscape photography – the fewer
people and the more basic the accommodations, the better.

So I asked my Panamanian friend to book transportation and we went to a place that I had
never heard about before and that would eventually blow my mind.
About a two hour drive north-east of Panama City, off Panama’s Caribbean coast line, there lies the San Blas archipelago. With its 365 tiny islands, crystal clear water and perfect
weather, it has everything that comes to your mind when you hear the word “Caribbean”.

We stayed in a tiny tent that we brought, on an island so small it took me exactly 46 seconds to circle it. Apart from us, there was an Indian family living in three huts, some benches, a kitchen, a bathroom and most importantly a few awesome hammocks between palm trees.


San Blas is geographically part of Panama but self-governed by the Kuna, Indians that
originally came from Columbia and settled in Panama in the early 19 th century. They still live the traditional life and keep the San Blas archipelago as pristine as possible – no hotels or mass tourism allowed.


Sunsets on the archipelago are simply mind-blowing. In the evenings we just laid down in the sand and watched the sun set and the stars come out. It was nearly too picturesque to be real.


During daytime, we went on tours going around the archipelago in a small fast boat and
stopped by various islands. We took pictures of starfish and snorkeled at a wreck, played
volleyball on a beach white enough to blind you and finally had tons of fresh seafood. It felt like paradise. If you ever come to Panama, you have to check out this hidden gem of the Caribbean!

You can follow more of Philipp’s amazing travels here.

You can also follow his amazing photography on his Instagram too!

The Secret Beach – By Brenton De Rooy

We are very excited to show you guys our first installment from the lovely Brenton De Rooy! This man has been working with us from the very beginning and we love his approach to surf photography and his attitude towards life!

He describes this collection as ‘A few pics, barrels and stuff from a secret spot around mid North Coast Australia.


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Meet the Photographers! Philipp Hauptmann

My name is Philipp, I am 26 years old.


I was born and raised in the west of Germany close to Cologne. Currently I am studying mechanical engineering and business administration right at the border to the Netherlands and Belgium, but my passion is traveling.


I am a huge fan of southeast Asia, especially Indonesia. During my travels, I always feel like I wanna freeze all those beautiful moments and take the landscapes with me. My way to do that is taking pictures of everything I find interesting and trying to make them look as perfect as possible. I love studying languages.


Wherever I go, I wanna be able to communicate to the locals in their language, making them a lot more welcoming and open. Currently, I am traveling through Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama and trying to learn Spanish.



Follow my Instagram here!

Meet the Photographers! Sam Warren

We have managed to snag another great Photographer for our GVS Co. community. Sam Warren joins us from Leeds University and we originally found him on Instagram where his bold imagery and edit choices got us hooked!

Born in the North, raised in the South. When you spend more than 2/3rd of your life on the Isle of Wight, it’s pretty hard to stop yourself from falling in love with the ocean.

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Growing up surround by white cliffs and crashing waves, it was only natural to get into water sports, but it wasn’t until I was 14 that I started surfing, and ever since then I’ve been hooked! I got my first camera (a GoPro Hero 3) at 17 to film a few waves here and there, but I soon found a love for filming and editing and began taking pictures and making videos of my adventures.

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After high school I went back to my northern roots to study at the Physics at the University of Leeds.  It’s here where I joined the university surf club and became the media and merchandise secretary, documenting my travels with the club and sharing my other journeys around the world through Instagram, YouTube, and occasionally Vimeo and Twitter!

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Meet the Photographers! Nick Corkill

Photographer, surfer, underwater explorer, wanderer.
I have spent my adult life pursuing many different interests and looking for the next adventure. This has led me to travel the world working above and below the oceans and knocking up the air miles to qualm my wanderlust.

After 7 years in the Royal Navy I pursued a career in dive instruction which took me to working on super-yachts which is one way to see how the other 1% live. It was lacking too much meaning for me, however, it amounted to some interesting times travelling around the coasts of the stereotypical rich-man’s playgrounds.Following a short stint in the west country running a family pub next to one of Devon’s best south coast surf spots I packed my bags (again!) and moved to Australia to pursue a career in underwater videography and commercial diving eventually becoming a safety diver for James Cameron’s ‘Deep Sea Challenger’ exploration.

It’s been during these adventures, travelling, that I discovered a passion for photography, recording people and places around the globe. Now, based back in the south west of the UK I particularly enjoy documentary photography, and building stories and reasons
around the shots I take.
Oooh, and I’m also a Voice Over actor!