Cocobelle Posts

OK, so technically we weren’t on the river, but I think that spending a Sunday on an island in the middle of the Thames still counts! The Monkey Island Hotel, is one of Bray’s best kept secrets, and while everyone heads to certain Mr Blumenthal’s ‘Fat Duck’ restaurant, it remains exclusive and peaceful. Accessed only by the footbridge, boat or helicopter (for the super rich), the grounds are roamed by aloof peacocks, which all add to the feeling that you are entering Utopia. If you are feeling particularly flush, you can hire the whole island, and make like Robinson Crusoe (albeit with champagne and fluffy bathrobes!)

Afternoon Tea is served in The Pavilion, which houses an epic chandelier, as well as spectacular views of the river. I ask you, is there really any better way to spend a Sunday afternoon, than eating cake by the river?!

Take a trip there to escape the manic pace of the city, oh and make sure you try the superb toffee cake!

To make a booking contact Monkey Island

Love Always,








Dining & Food Adventures

Inspiration for this article came to me at 3am (note: this is a pretty good time to get the answers to questions you have been pondering!) In short this post is just a selection of the awesome women I have discovered and why you may want them in your life too. They come from across the globe, across the ages, and with varied journeys. They have stood against different adversities, but still, they continue to craft a lifestyle the way they see fit. They are tenacious, creative, focused, and rock out their lives with such vibrancy, that they inspire others to do the same. I cannot possibly do them justice in a paragraph, so share the love and check them out yourself. Ladies & gentleman, I give you, my ultimate female champions…

The Writer ~ Gala Darling

First up, the uber cool Gala Darling. Originally starting a blog on fashion and originating in New Zealand, she has now become an international author, blogger and speaker based in New York. Her mission is to spread her message of Radical Self Love around the world, and have a total ball while doing it! Boy, does this lady know how to inspire! Quite simply, her articles cover everything you could possibly wish for, what to do when you are stuck in a rut, to what to pack for holidays, perfecting your eyeliner ‘flick’, alllllll the way back round to advice on feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Plus, she does a brilliant monthly round up of all the cool articles she has found online (always great for expanding your mind). She also travels the world with two of her closest friends, teaching like minded ladies how to create their own fabulous blog, through The Blogcademy… doesn’t that sound like a ball?!

I can’t do this lady enough justice in a paragraph, so sail on over to her website to check her out.


The Fitness Queen ~ Rita Catolino

There are some seriously inspiring women in the fitness industry, and their dedication to their cause is simply astonishing. Rita is no exception to the rule. She shows up daily, she trains hard, she eats well, she gives what it takes. But, and here is where the difference is, she strives for sustainability. Having been to the realms of 10% body/fitness competitions (did I mention she placed top 10 in the WORLD), and experiencing all the separate challenges this brings, she now strives for a more consistent approach to eating and training. Her website provides inspiration for meals and workouts, plus she has a super podcast on health and training specifically for women.

She also has a killer Instagram account, for that visual motivation.

Thank you Rita for the photo!

The Entrepreneur ~ Sophia Amoruso

The original #GirlBoss (in fact, she has a best-selling book under the same title). Sophia is living proof that you can  make it big in the corporate world, even when you do it your way. Not only this, but she demonstrates that you always have a choice… the choice to turn your life around, and boy has she done this with bells on. From shoplifting in her late teens ,to starting a business on eBay, to building Nasty Gal into one of the most recognised brands in the world. Sophia is a self-confessed misfit, who doesn’t even like to be named checked as a ‘role model’ (sorry Sophia, but for this reason alone, you rock!). She has stepped up and created her own destiny, all whilst retaining a strong sense of self.

She states in her ‘#Girlboss’ book…

“Breaking the rules for fun is too easy – the real challenge lies in perfecting the art of knowing which rules to accept and write to rewrite.”

Just pure wisdom and awesomeness!

Sophia is building a whole tribe of #GirlBosses here.

Image Credit

The Foodie ~Donna- Caroline Khoo (Nectar & Stone)

I happened upon this lady by chance on Instgram. Caroline, runs Nectar & Stone, a company which creates desserts that will simply take your breath away. Her commitment to her beautifully crafted desserts, and her passion for her business radiate through her work. Simplicity and luxury is key here.

For your daily dose of food porn from this marvellous lady, follow her on Instagram. Or find out more about Nectar and Stone here. (She has an online store for all you lucky people based in Australia!)

Image supplied by Nectar & Stone

The Pioneer ~ Star Monroe

Yes, that is her real legal name, and yes, she is totally freakin’ awesome! I have the total pleasure of knowing this lady personally. She’s been through some really, REALLY awful times, and I have watched her bravely rebuild her life, and you know, I couldn’t be more proud of her. Now running her own finishing school for women, Star leads the way in teaching women the tools to rediscover, and reinvent themselves, the way they see fit. But she doesn’t just teach the tools, and she doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks her walk, which, when you look for inspiration is so, so important. If you need a little extra support, she will give you love when love is needed, and kick your butt when occasion requires that! In fulfilling your wildest dreams, she’s the lady for you. Oh yeah, and her knowledge on all things female related, from fitness to psychology, extends to the ends of the world and beyond. She. knows. her. shizzle.

For a daily dose of Star check her out on Facebook.


The CEO Powerhouse ~ Arianna Huffington

Even since her early years, to bill Arianna as a high achiever would be an understatement. Aside from being consistently name checked by Forbes Magazine, she has written numerous books, and is the editor in chief at the renowned Huffington Post. This lady is a prime example of the sky being the limit when it comes to chasing down your dreams. She also knows what it’s like to hit rock bottom… while still appearing to the observing world, to be ‘on top’. She is now dedicating herself to to redefining what success looks like (hint: it’s not about the biggest Bank balance, working 24/7, or having all the power in the world… sorry Dr Evil). She now takes a more holistic approach, or what I like to call, ‘your tombstone, won’t ever read, she was the first one in the office, and had amazing abs’. Arianna is a great inspiration as she has been there, as high as you could possibly wish to get, yet, she urges you to consider having a rounded and fulfilling life, as opposed to something more one dimensional.

Discover more about Arianna’s defination of success in her book ‘Thrive‘.

Arianna Huffington

The Free Ranger – Marianne Cantwell

I discovered Marianne when I picked up her book in the library (note: browsing the library is a awesome way to get inspired for FREE). I immediately loved her approach to life, but also her practical take on how to make things happen. In a nutshell, and not wanting to steal the thunder from her awesome book, Marianne’s take on things is that you create your job/business/career description from a blank sheet. You make design and make it bespoke to you. She is also all about finding what you would adore to do. You know, the thing that you can’t actually believe people would actually PAY you to do, and how to turn this into something you can actually make a living from. Marianne is a lovely soul, but she will also tell it like it is. She also gives you permission. Permission to play, and discover what works for you in your life.

Marianne can be found at her website on ‘Free – Range’ living.

Thank you Marianne for letting me use your image! x

The Musician ~ Carol Kaye

Now you may not think you know this lady, but trust me you do. Remember the bass guitar line in the Beach Boys’ hit ‘Good Vibrations‘? That was her. The guitar in ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ (made more famous by a cheeky Tom Cruise in US Navy uniform), yep, that was her too. Carol started playing bass guitar in nightclubs in LA and quickly rose to the top of her game. Did I mention she worked 2 jobs normally? Oh yeah, and she was a single parent… to THREE kids… Respect! Her dedication and ability is matched only by her work ethic, and this is what I like so much about her. She went to the studio, did her thing, made sure she took no crap, and stayed grounded. She made the most of her talents, and applied herself, despite initial reservations from others about her being a woman (not that she was worried one little bit about this!). Now in her 80’s, Carol continues with her work and now teaches guitar via Skype.

Carole is available through her website.

carol kaye

The Stellar Superstar – Monica Bellucci

“True sexiness is in the mind, the imagination, not in the age of the body”

It may surprise you to know that despite voicing opinions such as the above, Monica Belucci is quite self-effacing. In fact, when approached to star in the next instalment for a certain 007, (her joining is one of my dreams come true!) she questioned whether she was auditioning for the role of ‘M’, as made famous by Judi Dench, and claimed not to be sexy enough… I mean, would you just look at her! It’s qualities like this, that serve to make her all the more likeable. That along with the fact, that she has stayed true to herself in an industry in which, let’s face it, being anyone BUT yourself is seen as a good thing,  she has shunned notoriety. Choosing instead to raise her kids, take a select few, well chosen film roles, and star in advertising campaigns for brands that are personally acceptable to her. It is always great to hear the wisdom that Bellucci passes on & boy does she speak some truths.


Follow Monica on Twitter, This is her official fan page.


Yes. YOU. When I discussed this article with my girlfriends, the first question they asked was – ‘Who are you going to feature?’ So at this point, I would name check the ladies listed above, but was always surprised as to how they reacted when I got to the this last entry. ‘ME?!’ accompanied by a look of absolute horror, became the standard response. While I  didn’t mean I was going to name check them all individually too, I do have news for you my friends (and readers). YOU are a kick ass woman too whether you like it or not, and yes, YOU do need more of your own kind of inspiration in your life. Whether your adventures mean you are a pharmacist serving your local community, walking 52 miles for charity or you plan to sail down the Amazon. Decide on your adventure and inspire yourself. Yes, these ladies can light the way like some modern day superhero fairy godmothers, but the ability to take action lies with you. Take your lead from them, and decide your OWN future.

Love always,


(Big love to Gala, Rita, Caroline, Star and Marianne, all of whom were kind enough to let me use their images xxxxx. Images for the other ladies have been taken from their websites).



When my favourite, Claire suggested we make a spontaneous trip to Istanbul, I was pretty excited (I do love an overseas adventure!). ‘It will be 12 degrees and sunny’ she said… Well, lets just say, her prediction was a little out (love you lady, but you/Google were wrong!), so wrong in fact, even the Turks were surprised. But we dug deep into our intrepid British spirit, stuffed on enough clothes to make Sir Ranulph Fiennes proud, and set about exploring the wonderful city. Here’s the first instalment of highlights from the trip, and my recommendations for adventure.

Cocktails at the Pera Palace Hotel

This luxury hotel is absolutely teeming with history, you can literally breathe it in as you cross the threshold. The Pera Palace has played host to some of the heavyweights of literature, including Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie. Although the property is now managed by the Jumeirah hotel empire, it has retained it’s individuality as opposed to becoming another faceless hotel.

The vast lobby is the perfect place to sit and have a cocktail, while soaking up the glamour of times past. Or, as this means for Claire and I, embarking on one for our random conversations, featuring topics such as ‘what did Jesus actually look like’, and ‘the concept of family in the Fast & Furious films’, seriously, we have the BEST conversations. A special shout out must be given to the Palace’s amazing cocktails that are brewed in a silver teapot and served in a beautiful teacup – divine!

Pera Palace


Visit The Blue Mosque

Arguably the most famous landmark in Istanbul, and quite rightly so. I have been fortunate to travel to many places in the world, but the Blue Mosque, or to refer to it by it’s correct title, the Sultan Ahmed Camii, is truly breath-taking. It’s beauty is not just confined to the outside. Once inside, it is impossible not to be amazed not only by the building, but by the devotion and reverence of the worshippers. Find a quiet corner (not easy at certain times, I grant you!), sit against a pillar, and just be present.

Prayer occurs at the Mosque 5 times a day, so make sure you time your visit around these as the Mosque is closed to the public at these times. If however, you manage to arrive precisely when you aren’t supposed to (as we did!), I thoroughly recommend attending one of the presentations that are run by the Mosque Maintenance Association.

Our talk was led by Elif Zeynep Yilmaz, who is the first female guide in the Mosque’s history (TOTAL kudos to her for being such a pioneer), who explained not only the about the building so many come to visit, but also about the philosophy of Islam. In my book, every religion would do well to take note of the work that is being done here by the guides.  The environment was warm and welcoming and as well as providing weary guests with refreshments, an open floor was given to address any questions they may have. Oh yes, and did I mention that this was all totally FREE. It was a place where preconceptions could be addressed, and evidence of a ‘living’ faith could be seen being worked into modern life.

Blue mosque


Baklava at The Kybele Hotel

OK, so I’m not going to lie, this was one of those chance discoveries (my favourite!) that was dictated by circumstances. Just to set the scene, we had been out in temperatures of -8 degrees most of the day, in snow storms that where more akin to scenes from disaster film ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ as opposed to ‘White Christmas’, so let’s just say, we were a little cold and wet. Oh and did I mention that it had just started to thunder too… Yes, it can thunder and snow at the same time apparently, in fact this phenomenon had many meteorologists very excited that day! So, after walking around in the snow all day, broken up with intervals of stopping to record videos of us, (OK, Claire, me) singing ‘Do you wanna build a snowman..’ we decided it was time to head in doors.

Anyone who follows me on Pinterest knows how much I love a neon sign, and to be honest this was the initial attraction which led to discovering this little gem! Once inside, the riot of colour continued, with the ceiling covered in the most beautiful Turkish lamps. The hotel was so warm and cosy, it is just like sitting in someone’s front room.  Especially as the staff were so lovely and welcoming. This hotel is not to be missed.

Kyele Hotel


Order the best chocolate in Istanbul, and tuck into the Baklava. Take a moment to enjoy the renowned Turkish hospitality. Oh, and did I mention it’s just around the corner from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia – perfect way to end the day!

Coming next… going underground, and visiting Paris… in Istanbul.

Love always,



P.S. Big love to my photographer of choice, Claire xxx

International Adventures