After the recent success of my Interview with Ben from the Moving to Portugal blog; I thought it would be fun to select some more of my favourite blogs and ask them to answer the same questions. I recently interviewed Sami from the wonderful blog Sami’s Colourful World and now it is the turn of Jo from the equally brilliant RestlessJo blog:
Jo describes herself so well on her blog – “Hi! I’m Jo! Johanna when I’m feeling posh, Jan to my Dad, and Joasiu to my Polish family. A bit of a mix-up, I guess. The one definite, however, is my restless nature. I can’t be still for too long, unless of course it’s sunny and I’ve got a good book. I love to travel and to explore our world. It doesn’t have to be the big wide world- I can be ridiculously happy not too far from home, so long as I’m out there, just embracing life”.
Jo is also currently part of the ‘My Personal A to Z Challenge’ completing her A to Z of both Portugal and Poland. She writes with passion, humour and skill; and always gives us well researched and beautifully illustrated posts – I am particularly enjoying finding out more about her Polish family.
So that’s Jo introduced to you – and now here are her great answers to my 20 questions – complete with some lovely photographs from Jo’s local area for you to enjoy.
1 Why did you start to write your blog?
I’m just a frustrated travel writer. I was writing on a regular basis for a venture called Simonseeks, who paid amateurs a minimal fee for their travel guides. I loved doing it and we developed a nice little community, sharing information and encouragement. Unfortunately it wasn’t financially viable and after 18months it ended rather unsatisfactorily. I wrote for a few different sites after that, but finally decided I needed my own voice, and took the plunge with WordPress.
2 Why did you choose where you are currently living?
Accident of birth if you’re talking about Hartlepool. Mam was born here and Dad was happy to fit in.
If you mean Tavira, we had a little money to invest in a property abroad. We were going on a family holiday to Vilamoura in Portugal, October 2003, never having been to the country before. I did a bit of research on the net and liked the look of Tavira. Fell in love with it at first sight, rain and all. Our son was intensely disappointed as he thought we would buy in somewhere trendy, but we loved its character. We’ve owned a home there since February 2004 and hope to make it our permanent home someday.
3 What do you love most about where you live?
In both instances it’s proximity to the sea. Hartlepool is on the north east coast of England with a marina and good beaches (a tad chilly at times- nearly got frostbite Nordic walking there the other day). I can’t imagine not living close to water. One of the delights of Tavira for me is the ferry ride to the beach. There are plenty of others to choose from but that stretch of water is magical with the sun glinting on it.
4 If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
Oh, don’t start me off! I would love to live everywhere- no idea why I don’t have a gypsy caravan! I read other blogs with such envy. I’d never fancied the Dominican Republic but I only have to read Lindsays posts and I want to go. Same with Sami and Barb in Australia. Unspoilt beaches and mountains are what call to me most, but I’d give most places a chance (even Doncaster…no offense Doncastrians!)
5 Quick choice:
- Mac or PC? PC- only use a Mac when it rains.
- Starter or dessert? Starter
- Early morning or late night? Love sunrises and sunsets just about equally. If I get engrossed I just keep going.
- Air con or log fire? Fire- proper warmth and toast on a toasting fork
- Summer or winter? Don’t be silly- Summer of course
6 What book(s) are you reading now?
Just finished “The Love of Stones” by Tobias Hill, which I found fascinating. I didn’t know much about gems and it travels around the world trying to trace the history of a particular beauty. Just started Patricia Wastvedt’s “The German Boy.” Her prose is beautiful. It’s an aftermath of the war love story basically- very promising. I love books with foreign settings and I usually have a travel guide or wanderlust tale on the go too.
7 Do you have a role model or someone who has inspired you?
Would love to have been Joanna Lumley or Michael Palin in another life.
8 What blogs and web-sites do you read regularly?
Iain Mallory on Mallory Travels; Andrew Petcher Have bag,will travel; Devouring Scotland (fabulous photos), Suzanne Courtney’s The Travelbunny; and Lucy Dodsworth’s On the Luce (met Suze and Lucy on Simonseeks). All the A-Zers of course and I keep adding new travel blogs constantly.
9 For people new to your blog, where should they start?
Good question- I tend to pick a title or place name that grabs me and go from there. I suppose Talking about Tavira and Discovering Durham sum me up, and there’s Exploring the Polish Connection if that appeals. Just get lost in there- I love it when I’m visiting a blog and can’t find my way out again.
10 What is your favourite meal to order in a restaurant?
We have a lovely local we call Fred’s but it’s really “O Xico” in Tavira, where they do gorgeous salmon on a hot griddle. I like trying Bacalhaus too- some are more successful than others. Otherwise, Italian pastas.
11 What were your best subjects at school, and do they relate to your work now?
English lit, history and French. Only distantly.
12 Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about starting their own blog?
It helps if you have a passion for something or a definite theme. As you well know Alyson I’m not good with technology so a site like WordPress was great to get me started but in retrospect I think I should have looked around more before jumping in. It makes a difference if you want to try to make money from your blog or not.
13 Where else can we find you on the web or in print – any books, articles, Facebook or Twitter account?
No books (yet) but I have written for Matador Travel, and Thelma and Louise, as well as Simonseeks. There are some links on my blog. I’m currently writing for a site called Travelwkly.com which is just getting set up.
14 Can you share one thing about yourself that we would never know about you from reading your blog?
I love to sing. I once tried out for a local band but was so nervous I forgot all the words to the Beatles, “Michelle”. Didn’t get the job!
15 For people considering a move to live abroad, what would you recommend they do first?
Research and then probably short term rental to make sure it’s for you and the novelty won’t wear off.
16 Can you name three favourite places you would recommend people visit if they are on holiday in your home country?
Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales is a beauty. There’s a link to a guide on my sidebar.
Runswick Bay and Whitby on the Yorkshire coast- spectacular scenery and cliff top walks.
The Lake District- mountains AND water- yes!!!
Do I get to do the Algarve too? No that’s probably not necessary- you just need to read the blog.
17 What would be your favourite way to spend a weekend that you had all to yourself?
Visit somewhere new of course- I’m a compulsive traveller. It would have to be a rail or coach trip as I don’t drive.
18 Can you speak any other languages and what would you recommend for people wanting to learn a new language?
Immerse yourself in the language- preferably find somebody to speak it with, but if not there are lots of internet sites to help. Don’t be lazy like me. I was doing ok with Polish when I attended local classes but the funding ran out and you need self discipline to do it on your own.
I’m a dabbler. I’ve never really used my French, learnt a bit of Italian then Spanish, and had just got started on Portuguese when Polish became a necessity.
19 What is your favourite:
- Film? Like soppy films, anything with Paul Newman, and Fred and Ginger….”heaven, I’m in heaven…”
- Book? Too hard- Joyce Carol Oates, Paulina Simons, Anita Shreve…
- Album/Music? Michael Buble, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, oh lots!
- Gadget? Laptop- it’s becoming a source of friction. I need my own but share with my beloved.
20 And finally, where do you think you will be in five years’ time, and what will you be doing?
Hopefully in or near Tavira but it depends a bit on Dad. I don’t like to abandon him and he wouldn’t come with. Writing, strolling on beaches, exploring…
Thank you for asking!
Thank you Jo for some wonderful answers – and I really recommend you head over to her blog RestlessJo to read more from this lovely lady.
And Jo has also turned the tables on me – so you can find my answers to some very similar questions on her latest post An Interview with Alyson Sheldrake (gulp! that’s me!!)
And there will be more interviews from my favourite bloggers coming soon!